Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Harper, June 12, 2012
337 pages, 3 stars
ABOUT THE BOOK: Beautiful Ruins spans numerous lives and time periods in a somewhat simple story about a secret love affair and (POSSIBLY A LITTLE SPOILER HERE!!!) an unwanted pregnancy. What makes this simple story different is that it explores the consequences of fame and the predatory nature of Hollywood. Jumping from 1962 to present day, a story of young love and love gone wrong, burgeoning Hollywood careers and destroyed careers, evolves.
I really enjoyed Claire’s story. She’s a young producer’s assistant in Hollywood who always dreamed of producing a movie. After a few years in the industry without producing anything, she is contemplating going to work for a film museum. But before she can give up on her dream, she is faced with her employer’s scandalous past catching up with him. The novel is about missed opportunities and how decisions can continue to affect people long after they’ve been made.
I didn’t really like Pat’s story—it was really depressing and threw off the whole plot of the book, which was: will the Italian find Dee (the actress)? Plus, you see his whole life play out literally in the end. Also, I wanted to hear from Dee’s perspective when she was young in Italy, but we never get that. Walter’s prose is pretty sharp and entertaining in Beautiful Ruins. His portrayals of old Hollywood actors are extremely interesting. I thought this was a good read, possibly a beach read, but it didn’t blow me away.
ABOUT THE OUTFIT: My dear little actress, this floral dress fits snuggly over your generous breasts (that all the men go on and on about) but leaves room to hide your growing belly. This striped sweater boasts a modern nautical look that will keep you warm on those jaunts from your island paradise to the mainland.
These bright gold shoes are the only indication (besides your striking looks) that you are someone noteworthy. These shoes are Hollywood chic and a throw back to Hollywood at its greatest (in the early years of movies).
Carry around this red card case, whenever you owe someone a favor for covering your tracks, you hand them a business card. This gold and white bracelet slithers around your wrist and reveals the snake you are—someone people should be wary of.
This bright lipstick was popular when you were doing movies in the 60s and now it’s come back in style. Spritz yourself with the scent of Hollywood, a smell you can’t seem to shake even if you wanted to.