Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lou Beach's "420 Characters," a Perfect Marriage of Creativity and Media for the 21st Century

Click here to buy from 
Lou Beach's 420 Characters is the perfect book for today's multi-tasking, time- and attention-challenged, media-gorging, art and literature lover (like me). Limited to 420 characters (including punctuation), each of Beach's very short stories started life as a Facebook status update. Vividly distilling experience into a haiku-like framework, Beach's stories are narrative gems -- evocative, surreal and dreamlike -- the opening scene of a movie by your favorite director as you sink into your seat in the darkened theater:

"We were on a tour boat in Boston Harbor. A candy wrapper escaped from some kid's hand, scuttled our way across the deck. Russell pinned it with his boot, bent over, picked it up. A gust of wind snatched it from him, sent it out over the water. An old woman said: 'Shame on you, littering.' My brother's neck went red. He got that look that could clear a barroom in Quincy. He sighed, winked at me. 'Yes, ma'am,' he said."

Infused with atmospheric depth and populated with myriad characters, Beach's stories range from comedy to irony, tragedy and surreal montage:

"Shot by a monkey, Elsa leaned against the banyan, held a bandage to the wound. They'd entered camp just before dawn, made off with a pistol, some candy bars, and a Desmond Morris book. We counted as six shots rang out, one of them finding poor Elsa's arm. Relieved that the simian was out of ammunition, we packed up. On the way out of camp we noticed a monkey on the riverbank, hammering at a snake with the gun."

The handsome hardcover book is in and of itself a small treasure. Designed after a vintage volume in Beach's personal collection, the red cover is embossed with a gold leaf monogram, the stories printed on heavy paper and illustrated with surreal collages by Beach, also a well known artist and illustrator.

Lou Beach, The Fall, collage

Lou Beach, World of Men C, collage

Audio recordings of the stories by Beach's friends, actors Jeff Bridges, Ian McShane and musician Dave Alvin, are available on the book's website.

The book was chosen as one of Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2011. In the following video, Beach is interviewed about 420 Characters for the series, Author Interviews @ amazon:

Don't hesitate to buy this book! Whether you read it all in one sitting or pick it up occasionally to savor a story or two, 420 Characters fires on all cylinders -- fine writing, fine art, beautiful design -- and will not disappoint.

Click here to buy 420 Characters from

Upcoming at Offramp Gallery

March 4 - April 15, 2012:
John M. White: Recent Works
Opening Reception: Sunday, March 4, 2-5pm

Sunday, March 25, 3pm:
Betty Ann Brown reading & book signing

from her new book, Afternoons with June: Stories of June Wayne’s Art & Life

May 6 - June 3, 2012:
Chuck Feesago: Retention

Opening Reception: Sunday, May 6, 2-5pm

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