I was browsing through the saved e-books on my phone when I stumbled upon a piece that drew my curiosity and roused the literature junkie in me. Published in March,Beat is the screen adaptation of Calum Cumming’s fourth novel titled Jack Nicholson.
It explores the in-betweens in the lives of Lou and Jim, whose marriage revolved around breaking cultural boundaries and dealing with an existential crisis. With Lou’s American background and Jim’s Scottish roots, the young couple unknowingly explored how their separate origins played a role in their union. Cummming, whose works largely reflect his Scottish background, toyed with various metaphors and symbolism that made the book an exciting read.
Like the Jack Nicolson novel, where it was based, Beat adopts a sense of excitement that gives its characters hope. There is a wealth of references to the Beat Generation in the book, so if you are a fan of this literary movement, then this book definitely deserves some space on your shelf. It is worth noting that a book or any literature that caters to a specific era or genre tends to alienate those unfamiliar with the references. In Beat, however, Cummming managed to give the depth and complexity of his characters, exciting your curiosity and pushing you to turn the pages to know more. There is also a theme of urgency and mobility in the book. It used the airport as one of its settings, giving you a hint of how the characters craved for the idea of moving from one place to another, while simultaneously wanting the steadiness of a place they could call home. I especially liked how Lou and Jim’s somewhat contrasting backgrounds, as well as their own biases, played in the book’s various settings. The book does end with a bit of a cliffhanger, so it would be exciting to know what happens next in the new phase of Jim and Lou’s marriage.