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Beat: A Novel Reviewed by Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Tuesday, December 21, 2021


Author: Richard LewisMater

ISBN: 978-1-7368230-1-9

In his debut novel, Beat,set in San Francisco in 1976, Richard Lewis Mater presents a movingexploration of the adrift lives of several characters in theaftermath of the 1960s counterculture movement.

Driving the story is atwenty-seven-year-old Billy Johnson. His daily life comprises sellingdrugs to friends and acquaintances, hanging out in bars with his bestfriend Manny, dancing at a club called “Dance Your Ass Off,” andchasing women. Besides supporting himself as a small-time drugdealer, Billy is a sales clerk in a T-shirt shop called AquariusShirts in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. The shopattracts tourists visiting the area where some well-known hippieslived in the 1960s. When asked where he works, Billy likes to inflatehis position and mentions that he is a manager rather than asalesperson at the shop. 

His means oftransportation is a psychedelic-painted VW bus which he has namedKozmic. 

You get the impressionthat his relationships with women seem to be hinged on his ability toprovide them with drugs. There was, however, T-i, who perhaps wasmore sincere than the others. They both agreed to have an openrelationship, yet T-i seems to have wanted more from Billy. 

A brutal awakening occurswhen Billy’s roommate, Noel, commits suicide. Billy is shocked todiscover Noel’s naked body on his roommate’s bed. Noel’s fathercontacts Billy and instructs him to ship all his son’spossessions. 

There is no mention ofNoel’s journal that Billy finds among the belongings. The writings’pretty disturbing revelations come as a shock to Billy. He neverreally knew Noel other than he was a writer who had some success withthe publication Paris Review. 

Billy had hoped that Noelwould give him some writing pointers, as he had aspirations inpursuing a career as a writer. His hope for a mentor was gone, andbecause Billy provided him with some drugs, he felt he was complicitin the calamity.

Manny, a savvyquick-witted rock-journalist for the magazine San FranciscoLifestyle, has minimal difficulty attracting women with his daringflirtations. Manny opens the door for Billy in entering the world ofwriting.

He introduces Billy to hispublisher, Ed Bernstein, who agrees to give him a chance to submit anarticle. Billy writes an article about the dance club scene, and,perhaps you can say it was beginner’s luck, hits pay dirt, and thepiece is accepted. 

Quite à propos is Mater’sstatement on the dedication page. Here we have a tiny glimpse of whatis to unfold in the story where Mater states: “This book isdedicated to a time and a place and a group of people who passedthrough it.” And this is what he accomplishes with this richlytextured, intelligent, moving portrait of a now-gone era. 

Billy and his friends’stories wind in and out, merging at times. Their themes continuallyrecur, reflecting their carefree, non-conformist lifestyle thatcharacterized the hippies of the 1960s. Readers are pulled in withMater’s effortless, conversational style, which is concise anddirect, shifting perspectives from character to character. He pullsus in with muddled feelings as we visualize his array of colorfulcharacters. Although, it feels depressing to read about young peoplethat are destroying their lives hooked on narcotics, treading waterand living on the ledge. 

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 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Norm Goldman
Title: Book Reviewer
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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