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Movies Of My Life Paperback – Oct 31 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial US; Reprint edition (Oct. 20 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006053463X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060534639
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,446,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Fuguet is the central figure of a loose group of young Latin American writers-a movement known as McOndo-who identify themselves in opposition to magical realism. In the author's second pop-culture saturated novel to be published in English (after Bad Vibes), seismologist Beltran Soler tells the story of his childhood via a catalogue of movies that influenced him at pivotal moments. The setup is stiff-the adult Beltran is on his way to a conference in Tokyo when he is inspired to hole up in a hotel room in L.A. and begin writing his film-linked memoirs-but once Fuguet begins piecing together Beltran's lopsided, bicultural life, the novel speeds along, overflowing with ironic insight. Born in 1964, Beltran lives in Encino, Calif., until he is 10, when his family (father, mother and younger sister Manuela) move back to Santiago. Bourgeois in Chile, but barely middle class in the U.S., the family inhabits a weird in-between world. In Encino, Beltran reenacts The Poseidon Adventure with his friends; in Santiago, the family across the street (dubbed the Chilean Waltons by Beltran) wins a family singing contest with its Sound of Music medleys. The ongoing political upheaval in Chile feels like another Technicolor drama, with a few alarming incursions into reality. But the novel's true turmoil is personal: Beltran's difficult adjustment to life in Chile, his adolescence and his family's collapse (his father leaves his mother the night Saturday Night Fever opens). The movie titles heading each chapter serve as subtle triggers for reminiscence, but never become a structural straitjacket, and Fuguet's pop archness is tempered with honest feeling. Despite the rocky start, this is a fresh, notable effort.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Beltran Soler is a seismologist with a fractured family and a shaky sense of self. Born in Chile and brought to L.A. as an infant, he was happily assimilated as a young child. At 10, however, a summer vacation to Chile turned into a permanent stay, and Beltran became an outsider in the land of his birth: culturally displaced, struggling with the language--and just in time for puberty. As the story begins, Beltran is en route to Tokyo for a teaching engagement when he learns from his sister that their grandfather--the inspiration for Beltran's career--has died in an earthquake. Extending his layover in L.A., Beltran holes up in a hotel room, obsessively creating lists of movies, which he e-mails to a friendly Californian he met on the plane. Revisiting his childhood by remembering the movies, he makes some sense of a life that was, in the first place, partly lived through movies. Fuguet, an antimagic realist, creates a thoroughly contemporary coming-of-age tale steeped in sly social analysis, salted with pathos, and leavened with humor. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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By A. Ross on April 22 2004
Format: Hardcover
Fuget's second novel to appear in translation (following Bad Vibes), features a gimmicky framework that actually works well and transcends merely being cute. A somewhat clunky first section introduces the reader to Beltran, a Chilean seismologist traveling from Santiago to Japan, via LA, for a conference. A conversation with a woman on the plane, a snippet of a radio interview heard in a taxi, and the news that his grandfather has died are the catalysts for his holing up in an LA hotel and feverishly writing a memoir of sorts (which forms the bulk of the book). While it is a traditional memoir in that it proceeds chronologicallyófrom Beltran's birth in 1964 and his life in Los Angeles (Inglewood and later Encino) until 1974, when vacation in post-Allende Chile turns into a permanent stayóhis recollections are arranged in a series of fifty brief sections, each corresponding to a movie.
In each case, the movie serves as a launching point for exploring an event from his past and reconsidering it. What rapidly emerges is a picture of a man scarred by both the dysfunction and displacement of his upbringing. While in the LA, his life is relatively normal, and he grows up as a regular American boy, although as he looks back at that time, he recognizes the fragility of his parents' marriage and his father's distinct discomfort at being a father. However, the real damage comes at age 10, when this fully functional pop-culture saturated American boy moves back to Chile, where has a difficult time adjusting to the different language, social rules, and culture. Ultimately, this is a bittersweet and poignant coming-of-age story, as Beltran's friendless adolescence morphs into semi-acceptance as a teenager, and of course, his sexual awakening.
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By Robert Beveridge on Feb. 3 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alberto Fuguet, The Movies of My Life (Harper, 2003)
A trick does not a book make, no matter how interesting it is. And the trick ehre is interesting; Fuguet takes the structure of a noted director (can't remember who, because my brain is swiss cheese; Elia Kazan?)'s autobiography and turns it into the story of a family trying to make it. The beginning works very well, being a series of emails between the narrator and someone he met on a plane about why he's decided to simply abandon his career and sit in a Los Angeles hotel room writing this, and the structure is intriguing, but beauty is only skin-deep. Once you scratch beneath the surface, you find another Oprah's Book Club candidate ripe for the plucking, a dysfunctional family with no qualities to make it stand out from the rest of the dysfunctional family pack so popular in today's publishing world.
If you like dysfunctional family novels, this will probably be right up your alley. The rest of you can safely avoid it. (zero)
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Format: Hardcover
The incredibly creative plot device that steers Alberto Fuguet's novel The Movies of My Life centers around a list of 50 movies that forms a brilliant vehicle to explore a lonely childhood and a dysfunctional family that takes us from suburban Southern California to Santiago, Chile. As Beltrán manufactures his own list, he peppers the descriptions with details remembered from his childhood and in the process, writes a touching memoir of sorts. And like seismology, he always looks deeper, searching for cracks, scanning his family for flaws and resistances. One doesn't have to be a movie buff to appreciate the beauty of Fuguet's writing (and his list) or to understand the role movies play in our lives often even without our knowing.

This is very much a book about the Latin American experience in Los Angeles, and it is a terrific portrayal of a city on the brink of change. From growing up in Inglewood to the Valley, Beltrán gives us a slice of life, that is so inimitably Los Angeles. In those days "Inglewood was a run-down, semi-industrial neighborhood, stacked with bodegas and Laundromats; an expensive, itinerant area that attracted immigrants fresh of the plane. The area was divided between newly arrived South Americans and lower class white Americans."
The Movies of My Life also serves as an ode to a movie lover. The true strength of the novel is the remarkable originality of the storytelling - the way Fuget symbolically weaves the "movies of his life" through the narrative - each movie representing a land mark event IN his life. The book says a lot about movies and the role they can play in our lives, and the movies that really speak to Beltrán are the movies that are really about him.
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Format: Hardcover
Reviewing the fifty most memorable movies of his formative years, Fuguet's novel approach delves into the emotional issues that shaped his young life and the man he has become. Chronicling his childhood years in California and his native Chile, each film becomes a vehicle into the past. Now a seismologist of note in Chile, Beltran Soler has buried himself in scientific research and accomplishment, preferring a solitary existence, one with few family ties or sustained personal relationships.
Flying from Chile to Japan, Soler has a stopover in Los Angeles, where, rather than continuing his journey, he settles into a hotel room and a painful journey through the minefield of his childhood. His memories are filled with eccentric family members and folklore, as many relatives immigrate to California, a cultural enclave in the San Fernando Valley, reminiscent of their beautiful Chilean landscape. This extended family is as culturally diverse as any in recent fiction, providing important childhood connections. When his father distances himself from wife and children, Beltran's mother, aunts, uncles and grandparents are a touchstone for the young boy.
Fleeing Pinochet's Chile for Nixon's United States, the family acclimates to California, blending their cultural identity with their new lives, rejecting a description as displaced South Americans "relying on nothing but their foundations of supposedly being white", denying their Latino roots. However, the Chileans are not accepted as white in their new land. Later, returning to live in Chile with his mother and sister, Beltran is particularly influenced by his maternal grandfather, a seismologist with a significant reputation in the scientific community, who guides his grandson's future career.
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