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Garbo Laughs (2003)

por Elizabeth Hay

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21210127,254 (3.22)13
A Globe and Mail Notable Book of the Year A Quill & Quire Top Five Canadian Fiction Book of the Year A Maclean's Top Ten Book of the Year Elizabeth Hay's runaway national bestseller is a funny, sad-eyed, deliciously entertaining novel about a woman caught in a tug of war between real life and the films of the past. Inflamed by the movies she was deprived of as a child, Harriet Browning forms a Friday-night movie club with three companions-of-the-screen: a boy who loves Frank Sinatra, a girl with Bette Davis eyes, and an earthy sidekick named after Dinah Shore. Into this idiosyncratic world, in time with the devastating ice storm of 1998, come two refugees from Hollywood: Harriet's Aunt Leah, the jaded widow of a screenwriter blacklisted in the 1950s, and her sardonic, often overbearing stepson, Jack. They bring harsh reality and illuminate the pull of family and friendship, the sting of infidelity and revenge, the shock of illness and sudden loss. Poignant, brilliant, and delightfully droll, Garbo Laughs reveals how the dramas of everyday life are sometimes the most astonishing of all.… (mais)
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Drama
  BooksInMirror | Feb 19, 2024 |
Not about Garbo, but vintage b&w films play a part. Hay always delivers a good story filled with human insights and poignancy ( )
  ParadisePorch | Sep 27, 2018 |
Movie preferences and plots take precedence over characters and events--but it works. ( )
  christinedux | Jun 7, 2017 |
The main character is an unsuccessful writer obsessed with movies. If that describes you, you might enjoy this. Otherwise you will probably get tired of all the mentions of movies you haven't seen, or only seen once. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Nov 18, 2015 |
Elizabeth Hay introduces her novel with an epigraph from legendary film critic, Pauline Kael: “We will never know the extent of the damage that movies are doing to us.” That brilliantly sets the underlying condition for the principal characters in this novel: Harriet, a harried novelist suffering from loss of sleep and extreme emotions; Harriet’s two children, Jane who is eleven and wants to be an actress and Kenny, who is nine and wants to be Frank Sinatra; and Dinah who lives across the road, yearns for Harriet’s husband, Lew, and takes an instant liking to Kenny, whose first words to her are, “Who do you like better, Frank Sinatra or Marlon Brando?” Movies, especially the movies of a bygone age, form the basis of their conversation, their desires, and their judgements. Just how much damage this obsessing over film has done to them remains an open question.

Hay beautifully evokes life in Ottawa in the late nineties. But the focus here is more narrowly upon the street on which they live which is a vibrant community of its own, stocked with eccentric characters, old hands, and angry North of England types. In their ways, they are each connected to the arts. Most are writers or journalists or wannabe writers or CBC radio personalities. All, however, are passionate about the early history of cinema. And since this takes place in that now fading era before the Internet took hold and IMDB replaced such tomes as Kael’s 5001 Nights at the Movies, nuggets of cinematic information, real or apocryphal, are like gold traded between them and sometimes horded.

But the real story lies between Harriet and Dinah and Lew. Their desires and commitments unfurl like the fractal spores of the rare fern that Lew has brought back with him from Cuba. As Harriet observes late in the novel, “How oddly disjointed so much of life is, she thought, and how little it takes – a few words, arranged a certain way – for it to make sense again.” It is a beautiful observation and, I think, it captures Hay’s disorientingly close narrative technique. It does feel disjointed, just like life, and yet, in these few words arranged into a novel, it does seem to make sense. Recommended, along with everything else Elizabeth Hay has written (or will write). ( )
2 vote RandyMetcalfe | Nov 27, 2013 |
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A Globe and Mail Notable Book of the Year A Quill & Quire Top Five Canadian Fiction Book of the Year A Maclean's Top Ten Book of the Year Elizabeth Hay's runaway national bestseller is a funny, sad-eyed, deliciously entertaining novel about a woman caught in a tug of war between real life and the films of the past. Inflamed by the movies she was deprived of as a child, Harriet Browning forms a Friday-night movie club with three companions-of-the-screen: a boy who loves Frank Sinatra, a girl with Bette Davis eyes, and an earthy sidekick named after Dinah Shore. Into this idiosyncratic world, in time with the devastating ice storm of 1998, come two refugees from Hollywood: Harriet's Aunt Leah, the jaded widow of a screenwriter blacklisted in the 1950s, and her sardonic, often overbearing stepson, Jack. They bring harsh reality and illuminate the pull of family and friendship, the sting of infidelity and revenge, the shock of illness and sudden loss. Poignant, brilliant, and delightfully droll, Garbo Laughs reveals how the dramas of everyday life are sometimes the most astonishing of all.

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