Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter


I’m not going to make a habit of the literary mix tape but Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins demands it. Because it’s a story of operatic proportions.

If you want a detailed review, I liked this one (it captures the complexities of the story without making it sound like a dog’s breakfast… Because there are lots of characters and lots of layers in this story).

And so, because there were over 8,700 reviews of this book on Goodreads at last count, I’m saying it with song.

That’s AmoreDean Martin

“But then she turned directly to him, and the disparate features of her drastic face came together as a single, perfect thing, and Pasquale recalled from his studies how some buildings in Florence could disappoint from various angles and yet always presented well in relief… That the various vantages were made to be composed; and so, too, he thought, some people. 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.”


Looking In – Club Hoy

“…he found himself inhabiting the vast, empty plateau, where most people live, between boredom and contentment.”


Slowly, Slowly – Magnapop

“Before sunrise – before Guatemalan gardeners in dirty dinged lawn trucks, before Caribbeans come to cook, clean and clothe, before Montessori, Pilates, and Coffee Bean, before Benzes and BMWs nose onto palmed streets… there are the sprinklers: rising from the ground to spit-spray the northwest corner of Greater Los Angeles, airport to the hills, downtown to the beaches, the slumbering rubble of the entertainment regime.”


Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen

“But I think some people wait forever, and only at the end of their lives do they realize that their life has happened while they were waiting for it to start.”


Crying, Waiting, Hoping – Buddy Holly

“A writer needs four things to achieve greatness, Pasquale: desire, disappointment, and the sea.”
“That’s only three.”
Alvis finished his wine. “You have to do disappointment twice.”


Perfect – Alainis Morissette

“…he was part of a ruined generation of young men coddled by their parents – by their mothers especially – raised on unearned self-esteem, in a bubble of over affection, in a sad incubator of phony achievement.”


An Ordinary Life – Amy MacDonald

“Jesus Pat, she said quietly. Listen to you. You’re like some kind of epiphany addict.”


Dreaming My Dreams – The Cranberries

“This is what happens when you live in dreams, he thought: you dream this and you dream that and you sleep right through your life.”


Never Too Late – Kylie

“But aren’t all great quests folly?”


Lovefool – The Cardigans

“…the smaller the space between your desire and what is right, the happier you will be.”


Everything I Own – Boy George

“…it gets at this idea that true sacrifice is painless.”

3.5/5 Clever. Almost a four because I had a little cry.

10 responses

    • Lovefool certainly holds up after all these years.

      This was a fun post – likely to make a habit of it for books that have been reviewed eleventy billion times already.

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