Beauty Talk & Monsters
Tupitsyn, a film critic and former assistant literary editor of Bomb, tosses tosses her never-quite-named (but seemingly consistent) female narrator between ages, cities and especially men in this lovely, unconventional debut, but gives her an unalloyed solace in the form of cinema. As the book moves from vignette-like monologuge to monologue, the men vary in their words and looks-one is ""many versions of earth tones,"" another is ""sneaky and bony...the color of a sweet potato""-but almost always do the same thing: leave. The narrator's salvation and distraction are consistently found in film: she sees one lover through the prism of Mean Streets; wonders if her neediness equates her to the shark in Jaws; and riffs on the macho pull of Jack Nicholson or potential insecurities of Tom Cruise. She's also fascinated with the idea of beauty and societal perceptions of women, famous and not, and shares her thoughts on cultural touchstones like Nicole Kidman's aesthetic trajectory (once ""a feral garden, now a sewing kit""). Other pieces here deftly blend real and imagined Hollywood, film theory and thematic narrative, as in ""Kleptomania,"" where the narrator looks on as Judy Garland, Diane Keaton and Tippi Hedren's Hitchcock character, ""Marnie,"" compare notes on their lives in a bar. The more experimental pieces will be buttery popcorn for silver-screen junkies, but the more traditional, detail-rich stories (like ""The Ghost of Berlin"") make a narrator who's waiting for ""someone or something to stick"" memorable.