There’s a thoughtful review of Beatrice by Stephen Dixon up at Tupelo Quarterly. I appreciate that the review is a positive one even while the reviewer, Meiko Ko, doesn’t just give the troubled protaganist, Philip Seidel, a pass. She evenhandedly explores the story and Philip’s problematic behavior.
But as the novel progresses, Philip begins to judge her. From a vision of Beatrice as a dreamlike, angelic presence, we descend into realism; he measures by her appearances, his sexual urges, compares her personality to Abby’s, puts down the poems she shows him. He has only wanted to see her from afar, an idyllic picture, not up close, as happens often with men who objectify women.
Thankfully, and aptly (of course I say that, as the book’s publisher), Ko concludes, “On the whole, this is good reading—an analysis of the differences between men and women, an attempt to understand and process the experience of life, loss, old age. Dixon’s conclusion, it seems, is that there is no other way than to bear loneliness …”