So, it seems that I am late to the party. Not only am I late to the party, I resisted going because everyone was going and word on the street was so loudly proclaimed, “Best Party of the Year,” that I felt sure I’d be disappointed. But, finally, only one year late (honestly, I am often far more behind than this), I slunk in the door and, low and behold, Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins is indeed bumpin’.
I have been hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t already read this book, but hopefully you are out there, another foot-dragger (how great could a literary breakout be, anyway?), and now I get to tell you at least some of what you’ve been missing: A Richard Burton that’s better Burton than Burton himself, a flawlessly executed high wire act of narrative time travel (no, there’s no worm hole; maybe another selling point?), a playful yet swift elbow to the ribs of our cultural priorities, characters that—when not reading—you will find yourself fondly considering, profound insights into parental and romantic love, a hopefulness about humanity that is both refreshing for a literary novel and reassuring as a human animal, dialog that is practically audible from the page, and a wit and humor that will one minute have you smiling inwardly and the next minute slapping your knee, teary-eyed, and snorting. In public. But it’ll be okay, because you can just explain that you are finally, finally reading Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins and everyone on the bus/train/boat/plane will likely understand.
Or, don’t read it. I get it. Just go ahead and assume that I drank the punch.
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