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  1. Girl, Balancing and Other Stories by Helen Dunmore review – her final work
  2. Get PDF A Living Portrait and Other Stories
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Sort order. Sep 06, Amalia Gavea rated it it was amazing Shelves: netgalley-books , american-literature , contemporary , usa , favorites , short-stories. Let's just say it was May in the first decade of the hardly promising twenty -first century The short stories don't really allow you to truly know a character, to fully connect with the situations depicted. The writing is dense and the underlying themes require the readers' full attention. This is why I love short stories so much and the reason " This is why I love short stories so much and the reason I tend to be quite picky.

In this marvellous collection by Christine Schutt, there are characters that open their hearts to us readers, there are themes that concern us on a daily basis, there is poetry and pain.

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So, it's not an easy read. If you're looking for a collection to spend some quality time, then "Pure Hollywood" is there for you.

Girl, Balancing and Other Stories by Helen Dunmore review – her final work

If you don't feel like investing time and thought, then I'm not sure you'll enjoy it. I always associate Hollywood with vanity. Vanity and the hypocrisy of appearance and decorum are central in the stories. The characters are trapped by choices that are influenced by the terror of growing old, unwanted and unloved. Families come apart either by their own fault or by Death and the pain feels like heavy shackles.

There is no "pure" narrator in those stories. The only thing that is "pure" is the desire to change what cannot be changed. Even the couples are only technically together. In terms of emotion and connection they couldn't be further apart. No one opens heart and soul, no one dares to give voice to feelings. They are isolated from each other and from themselves. However, they speak to the reader, their cry for help, their cry of regret is loud and clear.

Will we know ourselves and the life we have lived? Physical and emotional death, the loss of a loved one, the loss of innocence, the loss of all meaning.

Get PDF A Living Portrait and Other Stories

Flowery images and garden sceneries become a metaphor for the need of preservation, the need to have something alive and beautiful that will eventually go to waste because we never open ourselves to anyone. I don't have much to say about Schutt's writing. In my opinion, it is exquisite in all levels. Poetic, literary, dark, balanced. In a few pages, there are so many themes and questions. The characters are mysterious, each one could very well live inside their own book.

There is very little dialogue, but many inner monologues that are almost theatrical in nature.

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  4. All the stories of this collection are very, very good, but there are some that really stood out for me: "Pure Hollywood" : A complex relationship between a sister and a brother and the complications of a marriage of convenience. There are some beautiful images of life, love and death told through the use of flowers.

    There are elements of Fitzgerald in this story.

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    A newly married couple is in charge of a famous garden which becomes a metaphor for their marriage. A story about acceptance, tolerance and the severe lack of both in today's society. A story that focuses on the merciless passing of Time with underlying sexual themes. These short stories are among the best I've read. However, I hesitate to recommend "Pure Hollywood" without reservations because I am aware that some of the themes incorporated in it may seem depressing and disturbing to the most sensitive of readers. But if you desire to invest in poetic, cryptic writing and contemplate on questions that shape our choices and lives, then you should definitely try your luck with this book whose content is as beautiful as its cover.

    View all 14 comments. Pure Hollywood proved to be a collection plagued by a wide spectrum of dullness. There were moments, mostly at the start of the collection, where overwrought prose ran rampant in a way that made no sense whatsoever.

    The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. All of the stories seemed incomplete and covered in a blanket of gray soot. They were all a bit dreary in atmosphere I found that to be fine if that's the mood she was going for and very unfinished.

    The first story in the collection took up one-third of the space of the entire anthology and had literally only one moment of pure interest. But, I pressed on. I had to read that line at least three times just to extract some meaning from that sludge of words, almost senseless when mixed in that formula. BUT I pressed forward again.

    Portraits and other stories, National Portrait Gallery

    Still, it read like an adult version of Fun with Dick and Jane and the husband is even named Dick. It read easily, sometimes even jauntily, but in the end left absolutely no impact. That is all. As far as I can tell, it said nothing about anything but still managed to be rather snobbishly WASPy. But too haughty for me to even care? The nerve.

    Poe's Short Stories

    Nothing else to be said about this one. There was some irony in the end that was tolerably well done. This compilation of stories added nothing to the dialogue about anything, unless you are the kind of reader who enjoys a dry read of literary content the likes of which is sure to make future readers inexperienced with the genre cringe away from it. I get the feeling that Schutt may have been going for dry, witty, ironic and possibly socially commentating fiction, but I do feel that I very well might be stretching for benefit of the doubt because it just never got there.

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    This is an unfortunate, but accurate observation, in my personal opinion. I struggled with what rating to give Pure Hollywood. View all 5 comments. Jan 08, Roxane rated it liked it. These are a very specific kind of story—highly mannered, odd, witty. All about white people of a certain class.

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    Nearly every story features a death and something about gardening. The title story is the strongest. View 2 comments. Aug 28, Larry H rated it it was ok Shelves: netgalley. It's ironic that one of the reasons I never used to like short stories, the fact that I had only a short time to build relationships with the characters, is one of the things I like most now.

    When stories are done right, it's amazing how complex characters can be, how complicated their journeys, and how deeply you can feel about them, in just a small number of pages. She's definitely a It's ironic that one of the reasons I never used to like short stories, the fact that I had only a short time to build relationships with the characters, is one of the things I like most now. She's definitely a talented writer, and her use of imagery is tremendously poetic.

    But I found her writing style a bit evasive, so it was difficult for me to understand the characters' motivations, what was happening to them and why, and, at times, whether or not I should sympathize with them. In the title story, a brother and a sister with a rather complicated and perhaps inappropriately close relationship come together after the death of the sister's much-older husband, once a renowned comedian.