Pure Hollywood: And Other Stories by Christine Schutt

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But who could blame the girl Cecilia? Cecilia was a girl, and Jonathan was a restless, fully mended little boy. One minute he was in the bedroom watching tv, and the next, he was gone to the terrace.

I wasn’t always a fan of short stories, though having stumbled upon the brilliance of several writers, I am much more likely to pick them up and devour them now. Pure Hollywood is a well written collection but I really wanted to feel closer to the characters, which is strange considering I really enjoyed The Hedges, where it seems the reader is not meant to be that close to the young couple. It’s a strange experience for those of us with unusual names to find our name in a story, as the character Lolly shares mine. Lolly is miserable, exasperated with her sickly son Jonathan, bored by her beautiful surroundings, superior to the other vacationers (so it seems) and just one moment away from disaster. Maybe she has slipped away before, into sleep, into the distance, but this time she will be punished. The reader never dives too deeply in Lolly’s nind, yet it actually works in this story to have the cold distance, you feel just like the other vacationers trying to understand the young couple.

Where You Live, When You Need Me is so weird and short, I love it. Ella, a child care worker of unknown origins, during a time when mothers should be extra cautious of strangers around their children, appears as if from nowhere. But everyone wants her, so great with the kids. Why aren’t the mothers worried? Why is it the opposite reaction can be born in moments of danger? The last sentence in the story expresses such a beautiful defense for the carelessness of letting Ella in, which I won’t write here because it gives away the tale.

Some of the stories are short but hit me between the eyes, others I wasn’t really feeling but as a collection, the writing is solid. Schutt is one to watch,

Publication Date: March 18, 2018

Grove Atlantic, Grove Press

 

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