Monday, December 31, 2012

Beautiful Ruins (by Jess Walter)

Came very highly recommended, both by friends and by end-of-the-year booklists. I was about 75% done with it and was thinking, wow, it's kind of amazing that this book is being treated as literary fiction. You would think it would be dismissed as "chicklit" since it is so easy to read and written by a woman and centers around a female character and her romantic life.

Except then I found out Jess Walter is a dude. Well, that explains that.

Setting aside the question of whether the book would have gotten the same reception if Walter was a woman, which I doubt, it is an engrossing and relatively quick read. It begins with the arrival of a dying American actress in a remote Italian town in the 60s, and moves back and forth through time to the present day, when we see how the characters' lives have been affected by the events of decades ago. The characters are great, the story is interesting, the incorporation of real Old Hollywood is clever, the prose is smooth and assured, and the ending is satisfying. What more can you ask for?

I think it's probably a little overpraised (I feel like I've seen it praised everywhere), but that doesn't mean it didn't get a big thumbs up from me.



Blogger Abby said...

I'm listening to the audiobook of this title right now and enjoying it. The narrator gives a nice, fully-voiced performance, which I really like.

9:32 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

I can imagine this would make a great audiobook! And yep, the narrator makes a big difference.

9:57 AM  
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