As with any story that relies on scrambled chronology, it's worth wondering how Beautiful Ruins would work as a straightforward narrative. Not as well. Moments of confusion would vanish, but so would the magic. Mr. Walter…has always been more intuitive than linear, a believer in capricious destiny with a fine, freewheeling sense of humor. The deeply romantic heart of Beautiful Ruins is better expressed by constant circling than it would by any head-on approach.
Janet Maslin - New York Times
A high-wire feat of bravura storytelling.... You’re going to love this book…. The surprising and witty novel of social criticism that flows away from its lush, romantic opening offers so much more than just entertainment...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 … Walter is a talented and original writer.
Helen Schulman - New York Book Review
Weds the grand dramatic impulses of the cinematic blockbuster to the psychological interiority of high literary art. The result is a page-turner that doubles as an elegant meditation on fame, desire, duty, and fate.... Walter has planted himself firmly in the first rank of American authors. He has crafted a novel with pathos, piercing wit and, most important, the generous soul of a literary classic.... Beautiful Ruins will endure.
Steve Almond - Boston Globe
A literary miracle like Beautiful Ruins appears, and once again I'm a believer...a sweeping stunner of a narrative…the entire novel is a kaleidoscopic collection of 'beautiful ruins,' both architectural and human. This novel is a standout not just because of the inventiveness of its plot, but also because of its language.
Maureen Corrigan - NPR Fresh Air
A lyrical, heartbreaking and funny novel (that) ends with a 12-page bolt of brilliance, a perceptive, moving and altogether superb piece of writing. 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.
Kevin Canfield - Kansas City Star
Jess Walter has already proven that he’s one of our great comic writers (Financial Lives of the Poets), a cerebral postmodernist (The Zero) and a savvy plotter of thrillers (Citizen Vince). Now he has his masterpiece, Beautiful Ruins, an interlocking, continent-hopping, decade-spanning novel with heart and pathos to burn, all big dreams, lost loves, deep longings and damn near perfect.
David Daley - Salon
Hollywood operators and creative washouts collide across five decades and two continents in a brilliant, madcap meditation on fate.... A theme that bubbles under the story is the variety of ways real life energizes great art—Walter intersperses excerpts from his characters' plays, memoirs, film treatments and novels to show how their pasts inform their best work. Unlikely coincidences abound, but they feel less like plot contrivances than ways to serve a broader theme about how the unlikely, unplanned moments in our lives are the most meaningful ones. And simply put, 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. A superb romp.
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