cover image Beat

Beat

Amy Boaz, Author . Permanent $26 (198p) ISBN 978-1-57962-186-5

Boaz's 2008 debut followed a near-deaf painter through three eras of her life; her second novel uses a smaller canvas to draw a convincing picture of a woman caught between stifling domesticity and physical passion. Frances, a teacher of writing, has fallen in love with Joseph, an older poet (he writes “tundra poetics” and translates Sanskrit poetry), though she is married to stodgy Harry, and Joseph is involved with formidable beat poet Arlene Manhunter. The novel's present takes place in Paris, where Frances and her daughter, Cathy, have come to escape the drama back home. In flashbacks, Boaz charts the course of Frances and Joseph's relationship as well as Frances's marriage to Harry, whom she wedded “because he has a lovely phone voice and is shy and wears thick glasses like coke bottles.” Adding tension to Frances's ongoing introspection is the fact that Arlene has vanished, and Joseph is implicated in her disappearance. Enter Lewis, a gentle, poetry-loving private investigator who trails Frances throughout the City of Light, and it all adds up to a compelling picture of love and its attendant travails. (Aug.)