Amy Boaz Beat

ISBN 13: 9781579621865

Beat

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( 29 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781579621865: Beat
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One woman's dream of escape from domestic unhappiness opens up a world of erotic fantasy and danger in this sensuous, suspenseful second novel by Amy Boaz. A wife and mother estranged from her life back in the suburbs of America, Francis has fled to Paris with her mischievous young daughter, Cathy, where they visit museums, sit in cafe's, and rest uneasily incognito. Yet gradually Francis learns they are being followed as events from her recent past catch up with them: Francis's former lover, a poet in Boulder Colorado, has been jailed as a suspect in the disappearance of his common-law wife, and Francis, too, falls under suspicion.

In riveting flashbacks, Francis, who teaches writing and possesses "aspirations," has met the poet Joseph Pasternak at a wedding in Denver. A teacher of Sanskrit poetry, bearded and seductive, Joseph is a kind of troubador in the tradition of Indian nomadic seekers, whose translations from the Sanskrit move Francis with their gorgeous, vivid simplicity. Achingly unhappy in her conventional marriage to a chilly engineer, Francis embarks on an affair with Joseph, oblivious to the wound the lovers are inflicting on Joseph's long time partner, Arlene Manhunter, a half-Native American poet of legendary Beat status who does not take Joseph's infidelity lightly. Indeed her vengeful wrath will pursue Francis and her daughter all the way to Paris and beyond.

In a delicately probing, interior-driven first-person narrative, Beat develops Francis's awakening consciousness. Is her lover Joseph for real or a seduction artist? Does Francis's devotion to the well-being of her daughter --an often perilous task in Paris --exclude her from personal fulfillment and pleasure? And when love goes wrong --of husband, child, lover, self --what price does she have to pay? At turns dreamy and disembodied as poetry, erratic as memory, and as exciting as a mystery, Beat explores the slippery terrain of passion and betrayal.

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About the Author:

AMY BOAZ is the author of A Richer Dust, heralded as a grade-A "pick" by Entertainment Weekly. Her short fiction has appeared in the Virgin Fiction anthology, sponsored by Salon.com. She lives in New York.

Review:

A book person of note, when asked how he could tell whether a manuscript was any good, replied that he opened it to the middle. If it bleeds, he said, it's good. In her first novel, A Richer Dust, Amy Boaz used as her jumping-off place D.H. Lawrence's trek to Taos, New Mexico. With Beat she again makes a literary reference. Her conceit that the central characters are hip, world-fatigued, lowdown, a' la Kerouac and company doesn't quite hold, but so what? Beat bleeds.

An American mother and daughter are together in Paris. They visit museums, hang at cafe's, check out places familiar to the mother from her days as a college student and, later, a young wife (...) It took me awhile to catch on, but finally I got it: It isn't the kid who is the handful but the mom. From leafy precincts outside New York City comes the cry of her engineer husband Harry: Why can't she be happy with what she has? The answer is that Frances has fallen in love.

The object of her amour fou is a poet by the name of Joseph Pasternak. He swam into her life (crouched, rather he hovered near her feet in conversation with her table mate while everyone else was dancing) at the wedding in Denver of an old college friend; when they were introduced he mention[ed] his name several times as if unsure I [would] remember it. A few weeks later Frances receives in the mail a copy of a book of love poems Joseph he teaches at an institute in Boulder that sounds a whole lot like Allen Ginsberg's Naropa has translated from the Sanskrit. Joseph's longtime companion and mentor, the startlingly named Arlene Manhunter, owns the house where, after their reunion at the Boulder Quality Inn a few weeks after the arrival of the love poems, Joseph brings Frances for breakfast.(Arlene, conveniently, is away traveling.) Joseph is long and lean. He never fails to carry a corkscrew in his rucksack.

Such plot as there is, and Boaz unscrolls it with suspense, caused me to gasp more than once. The sound you hear throughout, though, is the crumbling of a marriage. Crazy love: On the road or in the suburbs, you never know where it will lead. --The Bloomsbury Review
Boaz follows her debut (A Richer Dust, 2008) with another finely wrought novel rooted in literary history.
Here it's a member of the Beat Generation who provokes the narrator's desire and dilemma. Frances, an attractive young woman who was formerly a magazine editor in New York, chronicles her sojourn in Paris with her precociously inquisitive seven-year-old daughter. Cathy has a lot to inquire about, because she knows more than she should about her mother s relationship with Joseph Pasternak, an older poet for whom Frances has all but ended her marriage. (Boaz throws in plenty of Kerouac references, though the outdoorsy Pasternak more resembles Gary Snyder.) A series of flashbacks reveals what drove Frances to Paris. She meets Joseph at a wedding and, restless since childbirth put an end to sex with her dependable, boring husband, pursues and steals him away from his common-law wife, a better-known poet with the unfortunate name of Arlene Manhunter. However, all is not what it seems. Apparently the previously married Joseph hasn't confined his affections to Frances, and he is now incarcerated in Colorado after the disappearance of Arlene, which may be a crime in which Frances may be complicit. What initially seems like a literary soap opera with traces of a mystery evolves into an acute character study in which Frances reveals essential truths about herself. We want romance because it will change our lives and we want desperately to change our lives, she reflects. But lives don't always change for the better, and those changes can have a profound effect on others close to the lovers. Frances is so concerned with herself that she barely notices the impact on Cathy of being exiled to Paris with a mother in flight from a broken marriage, on the lam from the law or perhaps both.
Satisfyingly subtle and rich. --Kirkus Reviews

Boaz brings the streets of Paris to life as deftly as she conjures her flawed characters, and her humane investigation of the misguided obsessions that drive us all to some degree or another make this a brave, heartfelt, intelligent novel. Highly recommended for anyone who's ever felt torn between doing the right thing and doing what feels good. Which is to say, recommended for everyone. --Small Press Reviews

Through dazzling, smart, dynamic writing, Boaz spins an enigmatic, unique story about dissatisfaction, passionate love, and the value of individual character. Boaz writes vividly and thoughtfully. Each character is painstakingly established through lyrical prose. Whether in Colorado, New Mexico, Paris, or New York, Boaz details the scenery, the smells, the people, the sounds, the colors, and every other detail of the area so that the reader feels transported to that setting. Beautifully written, Beat often read likes poetry (and Boaz turns to Beat poets quite often). As Frances learns to cope with a love affair that has soured, Beat is at turns a tortured love story and a thriller unlike any other. --Herald de Paris

Through dazzling, smart, dynamic writing, Boaz spins an enigmatic, unique story about dissatisfaction, passionate love, and the value of individual character. Boaz writes vividly and thoughtfully. Each character is painstakingly established through lyrical prose. Whether in Colorado, New Mexico, Paris, or New York, Boaz details the scenery, the smells, the people, the sounds, the colors, and every other detail of the area so that the reader feels transported to that setting. Beautifully written, Beat often read likes poetry (and Boaz turns to Beat poets quite often). As Frances learns to cope with a love affair that has soured, Beat is at turns a tortured love story and a thriller unlike any other. --Herald de Paris

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