About the Book
Hailed by George Saunders as “a truly gifted writer,” with Pure Hollywood, Pulitzer Prize finalist and O. Henry Prize winner Christine Schutt returns to the short-story form that launched her acclaimed career and her inimitable style John Ashbery once described as “pared down but rich, dense, fevered, exactly right and even eerily beautiful.”
In eleven captivating tales, Pure Hollywood brings us into private worlds of corrupt familial love, intimacy, longing, and danger. From an alcoholic widowed actress living in desert seclusion to a young mother whose rejection of her child has terrible consequences, a newlywed couple who ignore the violent warnings of a painter burned by love to an eerie portrait of erotic obsession, each story in Pure Hollywood is an imagistic snapshot of what it means to live and learn, love and hurt.
In league with short-story virtuosos J.D. Salinger, Katherine Mansfield, and Guy de Maupassant, Schutt gives us sharply suspenseful and masterfully dark interior portraits of ordinary lives, infused with her signature observation and surprise. Timeless, incisive, and precise, these tales are a rush of blood to the head, portals through which we open our eyes and see the world anew.
“Pure Hollywood is pure gold. In tales of rare wit and verve, Christine Schutt leads us into the lives of her perfectly drawn characters—couples young and old, children, skinny men, charming women—and dances on masterful prose through gardens, alcohol (often too much), luxurious homes, and resort vacation spots. Come for the art of her exquisitely weird writing and stay for the human drama. I loved each story—the quick flashes as well as the longer stories. Each one damaged my composure as a reader and fascinated me as a writer. Bravo!” —Ottessa Moshfegh, author of Eileen and Homesick for Another World
“In Pure Hollywood, the genius of Christine Schutt’s prose is as mysterious and undeniable as ever, its brilliance all the more remarkable for the darkness it explores, the disturbing realities it illuminates. Her soul-sick characters stalk and haunt your heart every bit as much as Flannery O’Connor’s. But even as she unnerves us, Schutt’s fiction renders more light, more life, more beauty. Don’t be fooled by its size. This book is a masterwork that hits way harder than its weight class, and achieves what great fiction always achieves—it commands us to be aware.” —Matt Sumell, author of Making Nice
Praise for Christine Schutt:
“A truly gifted writer.” —George Saunders
“Schutt demands our meditation, our intimate consideration, our awe.” —Jayne Anne Phillips
“Among the best writers of our time.” —Kate Walbert
The late afternoon sky he saw was the same Mimi saw leeched of all its color. Mimi, with her eyes stung from the smoke or crying or both, drew the drapes and turned on a downstairs light, a small flame in the gloom of the mostly bare and sunken living room. The Eames chair—her husband’s—startled her: where had it been that she had not seen it? Then her lawyer, good on his word, called, and she learned what she already knew: nothing was hers.
Briefly sober, she called Stetson’s cell to say she wasn’t going to drink anymore and she wished he would come back. She didn’t like to be alone in the house. “I want to get better. I want to get over this. I wish you’d pick up,” she said, then blipped off hurt to think he hadn’t even answered a call with her name. She fixed herself more of the same and lowered the blinds in the kitchen and in the dining room to spy on the gardener as he moved around the house. His expression was hard to make out, but she watched him wrestle the hose into a terra cotta pot; the hose must have weighed more than he did, poor man. When she thought he might come to the front door, Mimi took off her mules and crept through the house up the floating staircase to what she had made into her bedroom, where she hid between the bed and the wall.