Baldr and Beatrice

Honorable Mention
2018 Hollywood Book Festival

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Mark Seinfelt

A rich and subtle analysis of the psychology of friendship and love, Mark Seinfelt’s Baldr and Beatrice—a novel at turns philosophical, allegorical, mythical and spiritual—revisits the old, time-proven narrative formula of girl and boy forever desiring but never fully achieving the culmination of their love. Here, it is a matter of their accidental disuniting as primordial essences, depicted in grand Miltonic flourishes, through severing time warps and their reemergence in different times, places, and cultures. In this sad, comic, tears-through-chuckles tale, the reader is swept rapidly into the separate yet converging worlds of medieval, semi-pagan Germany and indigenous “Indian” America before and after 1492.
The grotesque admixture of prevailing superstition and custom with new faith is depicted in both spheres in this many-faceted, beautifully told-tale, exemplifying the best in narrative art, combining wit, imagination, history, and insight into the nature of love, and disclosing the influence of such beloved latter-day American authors as Barth, Vonnegut, West, and Pynchon. Indeed Paul West says of Baldr and Beatrice: “It invokes Thomas Mann and the sermons of John Donne. How does Mr. Seinfelt do it? By keeping it all in his head, as if the whole novel were to come alive again and swamp the remainder? I wish to congratulate the author on the splendiferous plentitude that always keeps itself from excess.