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Review: Pure Hollywood by Christine Schutt

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Title: Pure Hollywood

Author: Christine Schutt
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Short Stories, Collection
Publication: March 23rd 2018 by Grove Press
Series: N/A –

Format: Kindle E-Book
Rating: 4/5

Plot Overview:

In 11 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.

I was lucky enough to be sent a proof copy of Pure Hollywood by Grove Press through NetGalley, so thanks to them for allowing me to get my hands on it!

What I enjoyed:

  • Writing Style- I quite liked Schutt’s writing style, it was both accessible and had some beautiful prose. In particular I enjoyed the second story in the collection, which raised interesting questions about a connection between a mother and child and had the perfect sense of foreboding.
  • Unique – Each short story had a unique and original tone , that kept me reading on and made me think about them long after I finished reading. As is the nature of short stories, a reader is thrown into a tale with no prior knowledge of the characters and their situation, but I felt like Schutt did a good job of keeping the tales engaging and was certainly provocative.
  • Thought provoking – The stories left me with so many questions and I feel like many of them would make great stand alone, full length novels too. The tales span so many different subjects from marriage, family, desire, childhood and bereavement to name a few. Most of the stories felt quite sad or melancholy which I also liked, it really reflected the intricacies of life.

What could have been improved: 

  • Vagueness – Whilst I did enjoy her writing style overall, the use of euphemism led to a lack of clarity and left me wishing certain things were more clearly expressed. Some sentences were vague and I feel like some word choices were a bit unnecessary but this is a relatively small critique.
  • Some weaker tales – Whilst a majority of the tales were quite strong and immersive, there were a few of them which I found it hard to connect with or be interested in such as: The Dot Sisters and Family Man. Out of 11 stories, I suppose it is natural to have your personal preference though.

Overall, I’d definitely consider reading Pure Hollywood if you’re into particularly dreamy prose and want to feel an odd sense of nostalgia and be immersed into the lives of others. It definitely reflects a vast array of emotions and situations.

Until next time,

Rumaanah x

 

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