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Beautiful Ruins: A Novel by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Jess Walter

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1,7071344,164 (3.87)130
Title:Beautiful Ruins: A Novel
Authors:Jess Walter
Info:Harper (2012), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter


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Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
One of the best books I've read this year and my second eBook I finished. Its a wonderful tale of love that involves many players from different countries. I liked how each chapter went to a different time or story. I wonder though how much of it was fact when it came to Richard Burton with his personal life.

For the rest of the review, visit my blog at: http://angelofmine1974.livejournal.com/75764.html ( )
  booklover3258 | Jul 26, 2014 |
This book had alot going for it before I even began reading it, from my view point. I love to read of European living post WW2, love the 1950's and 60's, love reading about the lives of true Hollywood celebrities in that time frame. This book hit on many of my favorite people and themes. So even a marginal storyline would be a treat for me. But the storyline is touching. Alot of heart and soul, and I came away wanting to read another 10 similar to it.
The second time through was just as enjoyable as the first, and, as expected, some issues became more settled in my understanding.
There will be a few more times that I read this gem, and I look forward to each and every reading. In the meantime, the book will remain on my shelf within view, offering the comfort of its presence, especially useful when reading so many marginal stories that I seem to find. ( )
  pife43 | Jul 23, 2014 |
A novel of cinematic breadth, anchored in a tiny fishing villaggio in Italy in the early 1960s, while nearby Rome hosts the ego-drunk filming of the movie Cleopatra. A lithe blonde actress decamps at Pasquale Tursi's toehold of a hotel, and no one's life will be the same. These well -drawn characters, from both Italian settings, are brought forward to modern day Hollywood, Spokane and Idaho, generally to entertaining effect. The story's post-punk foray to the London music scene irritated me some, as maybe I'd have created a different life experience for that character (it didn't help that the book began to remind me of A Visit From the Goon Squad- eek!). The eventual reuniting of Pasquale, Michael Deane ( a near-sociopathic, delusional movie producer), and the actress Dee Moray, provides enough pathos, revelation and humor to please a wide audience, but has a frenetic pace that doesn't allow as much emotional depth or poignancy as I'd prefer.
A brisk read and imaginative, and I'll revisit the writer. ( )
  JamesMScott | Jul 3, 2014 |
This may be the most beautifully written book I've had the pleasure of reading all year! I don't have words enough to describe the wonderful way the author intertwines the lives of all of his characters.

My favorite passage: "Stories are people. I'm a story, you're a story... your father is a story. Our stories go in every direction, but sometimes, if we're lucky, our stories join into one, an for awhile, we're less alone." ( )
  susanbevans | Jul 1, 2014 |
To explain all the things this book is about would require a long summary, such as that on goodreads, but here is my best attempt at a shorter description. Beautiful Ruins involves two main stories. One, set in 1962, describes a meeting between a young, Italian innkeeper named Pasquale and a beautiful American actress named Dee. The other story follows Pasquale as, fifty years later, he tries to find the actress he felt such a connection with. In between, we get to know the many people who become part of their story, including a young assistant producer becoming disenchanted with Hollywood and a young man struggling to find his place in life.

I don’t think either my description or even the goodreads one really does this book justice. First and foremost, I would describe it as a story about human nature. The characters are incredibly believable and one of the author’s greatest strengths is writing in a style that fits each character. Through his words you can share the characters’ experiences, from a surreal scene in an idyllic Italian village to the life of someone trying to make it big in competitive and fast-paced Hollywood. As in many great, character-driven stories, the characters have their flaws but there are still many likable, relatable characters.

The language in the book is also beyond description – beautiful, poignant, want to read it out loud kind of writing. The plot was as complex and engaging as the characters. I loved they way the author slowly shared the story of Pasquale’s original meeting with Dee. As we slowly learned more about the present day, I couldn’t wait to find out how things happened in the past. I felt deeply invested in all of our characters and I thought the ending was just perfect. A little bittersweet, a little hopeful, and incredibly well written. I loved this book.

This review first published on Doing Dewey. ( )
  DoingDewey | Jun 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
Ruins constitutes a departure for Walter, another unplowed field, and he harrows it straight and true, turning up the fertile humus of the culture’s soiled psyche. Beautiful Ruins collides its broad range of characters in unexpected, unique ways, and the wonderful light touch of the satire makes them eminently believable. Unlike the Juvenalian satirists, whose righteous indignation sometimes results in flat, two-dimensional, cardboard characterizations, Walter’s people inspire sympathy, belief, even a little self-examination. Am I like this? Do I have any qualities that resemble the ones I’m reading about here? If I do, where do I get help?

Jess Walter has written a novel that sprawls on the lawn, looks up fondly at the achingly blue American sky and gazes into the deep humor of our collective human condition. That’s what good satire does—it reminds us who we really are. Humans.
added by zhejw | editPaste, David Langness (Aug 7, 2012)
Walter is simply great on how we live now, and ­— in this particular book — on how we lived then and now, here and there. “Beautiful Ruins” is his Hollywood novel, his Italian novel and his Pacific Northwestern novel all braided into one: an epic romance, tragicomic, invented and reported (Walter knows his “Cleopatra” trivia), magical yet hard-boiled (think García Márquez meets Peter Biskind), with chapters that encompass not just Italy in the ’60s and present-day Hollywood, but also Seattle and Britain and Idaho, plot strands unfolding across the land mines of the last half-century — an American landscape of vice, addiction, loss and heartache, thwarted careers and broken dreams. It is also a novel about love: amorous love, filial love, parental love and the deep, sustaining love of true friendship....

His balanced mixture of pathos and comedy stirs the heart and amuses as it also rescues us from the all too human pain that is the motor of this complex and ever-evolving novel. Any reservations the reader might have about another book about Hollywood, about selling one’s soul (or someone else’s, and pocketing the change) will probably be swept aside by this high-wire feat of bravura storytelling. Walter is a talented and original writer.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Helen Schulman (Jul 6, 2012)
This novel is a standout not just because of the inventiveness of its plot, but also because of its language. Jess Walter is essentially a comic writer: Sometimes he's asking readers to laugh at the human condition; sometimes he's inviting us to just plain laugh.
added by zhejw | editNPR, Maureen Corrigan (Jun 18, 2012)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jess Walterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballerini, EdoardoNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Anne, Brooklyn, Ava, and Alec
First words
The dying actress arrived in his village the only way one could come directly -- in a boat that motored into the cove, lurched past the rock jetty, and bumped against the end of the pier.
Pasquo, the smaller the space between your desire and what is rght, the happier you will be.(page 304)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Follows a young Italian innkeeper and his almost-love affair with a beautiful American starlet, which draws him into a glittering world filled with unforgettable characters.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061928127, Hardcover)

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow. Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:24 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A novel that spans fifty years. The Italian housekeeper and his long-lost American starlet; the producer who once brought them together, and his assistant. A glittering world filled with unforgettable characters.

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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