Year in Reading

A Year in Reading: Roxane Gay

By posted at 6:00 am on December 7, 2012 4

covercovercoverI can’t remember a better year of reading. I particularly enjoyed books where women or girls were allowed to be dark and dangerous and fucked up and “unlikable.” Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and Gone Girl, Claire Vaye Watkins’s Battleborn, Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine, and Megan Abbott’s exceptional Dare Me, in particular, rose to that occasion and then some. What Dare Me does with describing the body and its limits? Unforgettable. One of my favorite books of the year, though, was a novel with a really elegant structure — Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. I didn’t realize how intelligent and complex this novel was until I finished, took some time and found myself reading the book again and again to make proper sense of it all. With each reading, there was more to appreciate. Beautiful Ruins is the story of a young man and hotel proprietor from a forgotten Italian beach town who falls in love with an actress, who loves a man she can’t have, and how they lose each other and find each other again across 50 years and two continents. It’s about a craven Hollywood producer and his development assistant and the decisions they make and the lines they’re willing to cross. It’s about a screenwriter who wants his big break and what he’s willing to do to get it. The narrative transitions seamlessly from being richly imbued with a sense of time and place on the Italian coast during the early 1960s to exposing the cynical, overly ambitious Hollywood we’ve come to know and love and hate. More than anything, Beautiful Ruins is about how love can endure and how maybe, just maybe, we should believe in love’s endurance despite all the reasons we have to doubt such a thing exists.

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4 Responses to “A Year in Reading: Roxane Gay”

  1. Naomi Rand
    at 12:04 pm on December 7, 2012

    I wholeheartedly agree . . . and Beautiful Ruins was a wonderful novel. So complex and so elegantly written. It brought me to tears. Thanks so much for this. I think he, in particular, has been overlooked in the inevitable best of lists.

  2. trish
    at 8:10 pm on December 7, 2012

    I am reading Beautiful Ruins right now and loving it!

  3. I Now Know What the Worst Movie of the Year Is | I Have Become Accustomed To Rejection
    at 10:02 am on December 17, 2012


  4. Hostile Questions: Megan Abbott : The Booklist Reader
    at 3:13 pm on November 18, 2014

    […] film, TV, music. Troubled women, bad girls. Driven, unpredictable, complex. Roxane Gay wrote this piece for The Millions about how books in 2012 were filled with women or girls finally allowed to be […]

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