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.
“A book of long and short stories from one of our most distinctive prose stylists, Pure Hollywood captures several recognizable sorts of American landscapes and renders them and the people who wander through them in entirely new light.”—New York, “The Best Books of the Year So Far”
“A contemporary master and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Schutt writes stories that don’t have an ounce of melodrama in them—they feel unusually alive and honest—and few writers capture bereavement with Schutt’s precision and elegance.” —Oprah.com
“Wherever your literary comfort zone is, the chances are that Christine Schutt is outside it…The stories in this collection evade easy capture – but in reading, isn’t the pursuit part of the pleasure?”—The Guardian
“Think Gatsby with a twist of Didion.”—BBC.com
“In this book, perhaps the best of her career, she has drawn together her various talents and methodologies into something singular.” —Daniel Felsenthal, 3:AM Magazine
“A wisp of a book, as rich as it is thin…[Schutt] might well be called a story whisperer. She casts startling, jagged turns of phrase and coaxes stories from an accumulation of details. A sense of menace permeates this book, as accidents, misfortune and death amass from one story to the next. Yet even the darkest themes are rarely weighty with prose so nimble and offhand glints of humor. While Schutt is known as a stylist, she’s also a purveyor of suspense this time around. The result is that these moody, often prickly, stories can veer into unexpected territory, keeping us on our toes.”—Joan Silverman, Portland Press Herald
“Schutt’s distinct and economic style is on full display throughout this slim collection…Schutt offers surprising reminders of the ghastly and gruesome that are never too far away…Intimate portrayals of darkness told in Schutt’s tight and affecting prose.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Nobody writes like Schutt, the National Book Award–finalist author of Florida, and her latest collection is the perfect entry point for readers new to her work…In each of the collection’s 11 stories, Schutt gives readers dissipated women staggering to the brink of sanity, desperate men with foggy intentions, and an eerie atmosphere that radiates menace, sexuality, and murder…Schutt is always in control in this work by an experimental American writer of unparalleled style.”—Publishers Weekly
“Schutt’s short stories portray flawed characters wrestling with resentment, loneliness, and mortality. …Schutt’s restrained, provoking tales hold detailed impressions at arm’s length, as it were, leaving readers to explore life’s uneasy truths viewed through an unrelenting lens.” –Booklist
“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.