Judith Shadford's Reviews > Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
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's review
Aug 20, 2012

really liked it
Read in August, 2012

First of all, I think Jess Walter is an extraordinary writer and storyteller and person. However, for a significant portion of BR, I was kind of wincing, wondering who stole Jess and why did this seem like a really well-done beach read. Of course, the characters were fine, the setting compelling. But, was it Jess?
I began thinking seriously about Jess's oeuvre. What is this really about? Not just a cliffhanger of a village in Italy. Certainly not about Richard Burton--no surprises there. I started to wonder, is this about Hollywood, the way Financial Lives was about the economy and Zero was about 9/11. Was Hollywood the Beautiful Ruin? Then the Deane Party headed for the northwest and there was Jess in the pilot's seat, sly grin, stunts and all.
So in repose, maybe it is about Hollywood. But the beautiful ruins extend throughout the book. The fishermen in Porto Vergogna, Cleopatra, the movie. Once you get started, Cleopatra, the real deal. And his story comes clear--our lives are full of ruins--we are ruins. And still we love and create beauty. As he did.

Bravo, Jess!!
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