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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

beautiful ruins: a novel


And on and on it goes, in a thousand directions, everything occurring at once, in a great storm of the present, of the now...

Just finished this really satisfying book recommended by a friend with great taste.  Written by Spokane based author Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins tells the story of an Italian inn keeper, a 1960s Hollywood actress, a Hollywood producer, a Donner party survivor, and Hollywood wannabees.  Their stories jump back and forth across several decades in such a way that the book ends up making better sense because you can understand the connection between different events in different time periods.   

My favorite character was the Hotel Adequate View keeper, Pasquale.  I loved his struggles in love, with his family, in finding his place, in figuring out how to do the "right" thing, and in his efforts to speak English.  I just wanted to give him a big hug... and then have a drink with him.   

The book has one of the most beautiful and satisfying concluding chapters I've read in a long time.  Questions are actually answered!  Parts of the story come to a conclusion!  But not too completely or concisely that you're overly satisfied or bored.  It begins with this beautiful quote: 

There would be nothing more obvious, more tangible, than the present moment.  And yet it eludes us completely.  All the sadness of life lies in that fact (Milan Kundera).  

I finished reading this book with a smile on my face.  I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it!  I'll leave you with one of my favorite segments from the book: 

But aren't all great quests folly?  El Dorado and the Fountain of youth and the search for intelligent life in the cosmos -- we know what's out there.  It's what isn't that truly compels us.  ...true quests aren't measured in time or distance anyway, so much as in hope.  There are only two good outcomes for a quest like this, the hope for the serendipitous savant -- sail for Asia and stumble on America -- and the hope of scarecrows and tin men: that you find out you had the thing you sought all along.

Any one else read Beautiful Ruins?  Read any good books lately?

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