My book club got together on Saturday to discuss Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. I know a few people who did not love this book, so I was expecting to go into it feeling the same way, but I ended up really enjoying it. It’s a wonderful, fun book that made me laugh out loud quite a few times, but one that is also emotional and moving. I think that’s a hard balance to pull off and Jess Walters did it well.
My book club was a little bit divided. Everyone liked it, but some of us liked it a lot more than others. Some found it slight and nothing special. Just something to get through. I didn’t have that reaction, though I could see how you could. For me,it is a book that so perfectly distracted me during my commute, that made me forget where I was. It’s the kind of book that transports you to a world that’s glossy and not quite like our own, but one that is easy to get lost in. Just like a movie.
I underlined a few things, so I thought I’d share them with you.
Then she smiled, and in that instant, if such a thing were possible, Pasquale fell in love, and he would remain in love for the rest of his life — not so much with the woman, whom he didn’t even know, but with the moment. (8)
Weren’t movies his generation’s faith anyway — its true religion? Wasn’t the theater our temple, the one place we enter separately but emerge from two hours later together, with the same experience, same guided emotions, same moral? A million schools taught ten million curricula, a million churches featured ten thousand sects with a billion sermons — but the same movie showed in every mall in the country. And we all saw it! That summer, the one you’ll never forget, every movie beamed the same set of thematic and narrative images — the same Avatar, same Harry Potter, same Fast and Furious, flickering pictures stitched in our minds that replaced our own memories, archetypal stories that became our shared history, that taught us what to expect from life, that defined our values. What was that but religion? (21)
Have you read Beautiful Ruins?