From Publishers Weekly
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.
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"Masha Tupitsyn's debut collection is a breathtaking mixture of tall tale and autobiography, film theory and lover's lament, traveler's diary and gender treatise. A novel-in-parts disguised as a bootleg memoir crossed with a Hollywood tell-all, Beauty Talk & Monsters dares us to ask if there is a point to reliability when a shifty narrator can provide so much obsessive insight... Beauty Talk & Monsters has a shimmering intimacy." -- Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Bookslut
"Beauty Talk is in part a meditation on the symbiotic pleasures and impositions of intellectual exile--at once an indictment and a celebration--a poetic expression of voluntary solitude which questions what it means to hole up inside yourself, to resist the roles you've been assigned and the thoughts you're conditioned to accept as your own, and to willfully separate from the disappointment of other people without losing your engagement in and appraisal of the world around you... The one thin line Tupitsyn maintains is that between on-screen and off-screen. Pop culture is subject, theme, character, and plot in her work, which takes American media as a narrative foundation." -- Brian Pera, Fanzine "In her debut collection, Masha Tupitsyn is at her best when recalling emotional disaster, and when she aligns herself to this end, with strategies of Kathy Acker and Chris Kraus." -- Jeanine Herman, BOMB
"The experience of reading Beauty Talk & Monsters is humid, intimate, and juicy; like spying through a window at a neighbor's television set, it provides both the voyeuristic pleasure of watching a stranger's activity and the familiar flicker of a well-known film, now playing in a stranger's psyche." -- Michelle Tea, San Francisco Bay Chronicle
"This stunning book is a reckoning with what it is to have been raised with the movies, to not be able to tell the difference anymore between what we've fantasized or dreamt of, what we've been frightened of, what may have been our own or no one's life." --Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth and The Haunted House
"Here is a festival of meaning! Masha Tupitsyn does not meditate on the movies--she reactivates them in an uproar of image, desire, and identification. Her stories are acts of discovery, written under the sign of Kathy Acker, ambitious for literature itself, the prose pitched high." --Robert Gluck, author of Jack the Modernist and Denny Smith