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Beautiful Ruins (P.S.)by Jess Walter
Jess Walter gets nearer the Pulitzer with Beautiful Ruins. Chance meetings during the 1962 filming of Cleopatra in Italy set in motion events that spiral into the present day. Walter captures perfectly how the best part of life is that it doesn't turn out at all like we thought it would. There's humor, tragedy, redemption, and one of the most joyful endings you will ever read.
An epic story moving from the Italian coast in 1962 to current-day Hollywood, Beautiful Ruins is an absolutely wonderful novel. It reminds the reader that life really is both sad and lovely at the same time. Walter skillfully weaves together the lives of his many characters that span generations and countries to a very satisfying conclusion. I highly recommend this stunning and original novel.
This isn't only my top pick for the year; it's also one of my all-time favorite books. Jess Walter has created a masterpiece of storytelling. Beautiful Ruins is both hilarious and heartbreaking, and the characters live on in your mind long after you finish the book. Once you've read it, you'll want everyone you know to read it because it's so fantastic.
How to describe Beautiful Ruins? It's such an odd yet enchanting book. The characters are a quirky mix of the commonplace and the extraordinary: a befuddled innkeeper from a tiny Italian town, a haunted ex-military wannabe novelist, a beautiful but sick young starlet, a hideously nipped-and-tucked aging movie producer, a stranded, strung-out musician, a screenwriter pitching a movie on the Donner Party, and Richard Burton. What? Yes, Richard Burton. It all seems eccentric and decidedly bizarre, yet Beautiful Ruins is a thoroughly lovely book. Witnessing the craftsmanship with which Walter braids these characters' story threads together is beautiful indeed. Funny, sweet, heart-wrenching, and profound, Beautiful Ruins has all of your literary touch points covered.
Synopses & Reviews
From the moment it opens — on a rocky patch of Italian coastline, circa 1962, when a daydreaming young innkeeper looks out over the water and spies a mysterious woman approaching him on a boat — Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to the back lots of contemporary Hollywood, Beautiful Ruins is gloriously inventive and constantly surprising — a story of flawed yet fascinating people navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.
“Well-constructed…quirky and entertaining tale of greed, treachery, and love.” Publishers Weekly
“This is a blockbuster, with romance, majesty, comedy, smarts, and a cast of thousands. There's lights, there's camera, there's action. If you want anything more from a novel than Jess Walter gives you in Beautiful Ruins, you're getting thrown out of the theater.” Daniel Handler, author of Why We Broke Up and creator of Lemony Snicket
“Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece.” Richard Russo, author of That Old Cape Magic and Empire Falls
“[N]othing less than brilliant, a tour de force that crosses decades, continents, and genres, to powerful and often hilarious effect....A masterful novel of love, loss, and hard-won hope that satisfies on every level.” Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“Within a page-turner of a plot, these triumphantly vulnerable characters leap off the page to take up permanent residence in your inner life. The effect is so powerful that to be untouched by Beautiful Ruins might well be like having no inner life at all.” Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction
“A brilliant, madcap meditation on fate....Walter's prose is a joy-funny, brash, witty and rich with ironic twists. He's taken all of the tricks of the postmodern novel and scoured out the cynicism, making for a novel that's life-affirming but never saccharine.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A novel shot in sparkly Technicolor...re-imagines history in a package so appealing we'd be idiots not to buy it.” Library Journal (starred review)
“A marvel, an absolute gem of a beach read that is both hilarious and heartbreaking.” Huffington Post
“Walter vividly draws a world both tender and cutthroat, where ambition battles reality, daydreams fight doldrums and sometimes win.” Interview
“Lyrical, heartbreaking, and funny....Walter closes the deal with such command that you begin to wonder why up till now he's not often been mentioned as one of the best novelists around. Beautiful Ruins might just correct that oversight.” Kansas City Star
“A monument to crazy love....Walter [is] a believer in capricious destiny with a fine, freewheeling sense of humor.” New York Times
“Expertly scratches the seasonal itch for both literary depth and dazzle.” Entertainment Weekly
“A novel with pathos, piercing wit and, most important, the generous soul of a literary classic....Walter has planted himself firmly in the first rank of American authors.” Boston Globe
“Beautiful....A shining, imaginative tale...Beautiful Ruins shows novelists how it is done.” The Plain Dealer
“A literary miracle.” Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air
“His [Walter's] characters are long-suffering, prone to failure and sometimes at death's door. But the verve and enthusiasm of this novel, from its lets-go-everywhere structure to the comedy in the marrow of its sentences, are wholly life-affirming.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Entrancing novel…Walter's turns of phrase are as brilliant as his plot twists, making for a compelling, fun read.” People
“Beautiful Ruins is satisfying and delicate, a spectacular story of love, frustration, selfish intent, and the patience of the human heart.” The Stranger
“[A] high-wire feat of bravura storytelling....[Walter's] 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.” New York Times Book Review
“A beautiful narrative....This writer is a genius of the modern American moment.” Philadelphia Inquirer
“His masterpiece...an interlocking, continent-hopping, decade-spanning novel with heart and pathos to burn, all big dreams, lost loves, deep longings and damn near perfect.” Salon
“Walter is a very, very funny writer and can do Hollywood satire with the best of them. But this is also a novel with a live, beating heart, full of sympathy for its characters and a gut wisdom…You'll want to explore these Ruins.” Newsday
“It is a powerful and lush book.” Selma Blair, the New York Post
The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet. Hailed by critics and loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962... and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.
About the Author
Jess Walter is the author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets, the National Book Award finalist The Zero, the Edgar Award-winning Citizen Vince, Land of the Blind, and the New York Times Notable Book Over Tumbled Graves. He lives in Spokane, Washington, with his family.
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