The Distant Beautiful suggests, maybe a bit heretically, that ideas are still beautiful (and dangerous) – enough to fall in love with. For the most part, our materialist and media-saturated culture has solved the quandaries of the soul with digital and virtual totems, but a pestering consciousness remains. Now possibly more than ever, we hunger for beauty and truth even as we deny their existence. In a hybrid narrative that consists of five interconnected stories, lyric fragments, and vignettes, The Distant Beautiful asks and in turn seeks to provide answers to difficult questions: about love and intimacy, the trappings of memory, about faith and the pursuit of meaning – tantalizingly elusive, ever hovering in the distance. By doing so the book offers a tool for thinking through what matters to us today. What is there worth creating when every keystroke effaces our own epitaph? What is there worth believing in, if as the book itself pronounces, etched inside the blue-black lines of a tattoo, We are children of the rain, born to be forgotten?
The inspiration for this novella of prose arose during the height of the Arab Spring. It is a hybrid narrative, one that makes use of poetic prose, reportage, literary quotes, and philosophical ruminations. Ultimately, however, it is a book of ideas as it follows an unnamed protagonist, who is a photographer, as he moves between Eastern Europe and Russia photographing a round of protests and revolutions is sweeping through the region. He falls in love with a young protester who makes him contemplate the need of beauty in art, as well as beauty futility. The book aims to raise our cultural consciousness by addressing through historical and contemporary references such topics as the limitations of memory, the transience of human life, and the futility of history; above all, the difficulties of finding beauty and meaning in a spiritually and culturally bankrupt civilization. In the end, the protagonist decides that perhaps the best way to bear this hardship is to accept–indeed, embrace and celebrate–our own impermanence and aspire to the non-attachment of Tibetan Buddhist monks. The Distant Beautiful invites readers to experience their own mortality, to accept that the Book of Life is written in Leaves of Grass. “If you want me again,” Walt Whitman said, “look for me under your bootsoles
Andrei Guruianu is a writer whose work often explores such topics as memory and forgetting, the role of art and of the artist, and the ability of place to shape personal and collective histories. His most recent project is Dead Reckoning: Transatlantic Passages From Europe to America (SUNY Press), a co-authored dialogic and ekphrastic collection of essays and prose poems.
Available for pre-order on
Read or write a review on Goodreads
Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.