AF­TER­NOONS WITH HAR­VEY BEAM

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight -

Car­rie Cox, Fre­man­tle Press (MAY) Soft­cover $17.99 (198pp), 978-1-925591-08-8

When Har­vey Beam dis­cov­ered his tal­ent for talk ra­dio, he poured him­self into work, launch­ing him­self from re­mote Shor­ton to glit­ter­ing Syd­ney to be­come a na­tional star.

But his star is wan­ing, and all he left be­hind isn’t wait­ing where he left it. Not ex­actly. His fam­ily, even his back­wa­ter home­town, have moved on with­out him. And now his fa­ther’s about to do the same by dy­ing, and “for some peo­ple—plenty of peo­ple, he imag­ines—that’s a big deal.” Har­vey is about to find out for him­self in Car­rie Cox’s Af­ter­noons with Har­vey Beam.

Har­vey Beam is self-in­volved. On the air, that’s his great­est strength; ev­ery­where else, it’s his great­est weak­ness. Har­vey’s fam­ily re­la­tion­ships, mar­riage, con­nec­tion with his two daugh­ters, friend­ships—and now his work—have steadily dwin­dled; he’s avoided ex­am­in­ing the para­dox, but he can’t avoid it any more. Faced with job ter­mi­na­tion, he’s flee­ing Syd­ney for his home­town be­cause, ready or not, the “an­swer to Har­vey was here, in the space oc­cu­pied by the tight-jawed man called Lionel Beam.” The male midlife cri­sis story is fa­mil­iar, but Cox ex­cels at cre­at­ing sym­pa­thy for her emo­tion­ally stunted lead. The re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Har­vey, a deeply flawed char­ac­ter, is vul­ner­a­ble, darkly comic, and as­sem­bled like a well-laid fire. Care­ful and pre­cise, Har­vey’s de­vel­op­ment is a con­trolled burn; Cox honors the source of his past be­hav­ior while still in­sist­ing that it’s time to let it go.

In Af­ter­noons with Har­vey Beam, death is the truth that fi­nally sets Har­vey free. The dual ter­mi­na­tion of his job and his fa­ther forces Har­vey to con­front the sto­ries he’s been telling him­self about who he is. As Har­vey’s ques­tions and doubts are si­lenced, he’s fi­nally able to make con­nec­tions be­tween the child he was and the man he’s be­come.

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