This fast moving narrative contains many well-developed stories in one. It is a memoir spanning several generations, a candid, perceptive, painful account of a “Gen X” young man becoming an artist, and a moving, inspiring memoir of recovery that magnificently illustrates why the author was named Poet Laureate of Marin County. It is worth reading as a family history alone, in part because of the compassion with which the author comes to treat the major characters: his parents. As a candid coming of age story, I believe Beamish Boy belongs on the shelf next to an excellent book like Good Times, Bad Times (Kirkwood). But, the author effectively evokes echoes of an even greater poet novelist from the past. Robert Penn Warren began the novel A Place to Come To with a description of Jed Tewkesbury’s drunk father falling down and getting run over by a horse cart. Beamish Boy begins with a similar, excruciating first-hand account from the author. Fortunately for the reader, that’s just the beginning of the similarities between these two American Poet-Novelists.