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Live Girls Paperback – December 8, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Alienated characters drift aimlessly through a bleak urban wasteland in Nugent's rather turgid first novel, whose flat, affectless tone becomes monotonous early. The narrator, Catherine, is a college dropout who works at an X-rated movie house and lives in a transient hotel. Catherine is obsessed by memories of her dead sister; likewise, the porn theater's owner, Dave, is obsessed with his former wife, whom he accidently killed. The closest thing to a friend in Catherine's life is Jerome, a self-absorbed transvestite hustler. Eventually, Dave produces his awkward, unsophisticated nephew, Danny, in the hopes that he and Catherine will somehow hit it off, rather wishful thinking considering both characters' utter inability to communicate. The extreme emotional isolation of everyone in the book makes it difficult for any sort of plot to develop, and a reader's empathy is pushed to the breaking point by such narcissistic characters. While Nugent mined very similar territory to great effect in her debut short-story collection, City of Boys, the material is not sufficient to propel this novel.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

After her critically acclaimed stories in City of Boys (LJ 6/1/92), Nugent offers a very haunting first novel. Her work dwells deep in the inner psyche of the protagonist, twentysomething Catherine, whose key friends are Jerome, an anorexic drag queen; Dave, who owns a rundown porn theater that he feels portrays true art; and a cat. Catherine has led a very down-and-out life, yet ironically she seems unaware of her desperate situation. However, she's quite aware of everyone else's disconnection from society; as she states about her friend Jerome, "If I leave him now, he will be alone; he will fill his pockets with sand and walk into the waves." Weaving dark detail into her portrayal of all her characters, Nugent presents a life that is not always glamorous but is very real. A promising first novel; essential for most collections.
Vicki J. Cecil, Hartford City P.L., Ind.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (December 8, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067974424X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679744245
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,153,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Live Girls is a haunting, seering work of fiction which reads like someone you may know's journal - someone who is lost but is loathe to acknowledge that. And understandably for Catherine, our passive aggressive anti-heroine who makes up lie after lie on the spot, stitching remnants of other people's lives into the decaying fabric of her own. I was completely engrossed in the reading of this novel - it is so utterly numb as to be brutally, painfully honest - so honest that you laugh, because you recognize life as it really is. And Nugent's ability to invite the reader in, yet not offer them more than they are willing to bargain for, is perhaps the most exciting element of this book: there are those who hate it and say it's about nothing, and those who declare it the most depressing thing they've ever read and those who say it is packed with energy and thought and deed and idea and still others who are just content to glimpse this poor girl's life. We can't help Catherine. We wonder why she doesn't just get on with her life and we wonder if what she is doing to herself is a self-inflicted punishment or just the result of someone who never knew how to make the right choices because she's too afraid of life - afraid like her sister would want her to be, afraid and with no hope of acquiring any happiness whatsoever. I found this book to be refreshing, actually. Different. Unassuming. A fantastic read, by all means. Her prose is magnetic, it pulls you in. Just be careful not to fall into the world of her characters who are lost people, fragile at best, with facial bruises and sick cats and dying mothers and spiders living in their hearts and little wooden children running in the yard, and city jobs where they trap pigeons all day long....Live Girls is a triumph. I look forward to more from this writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By UberBarbie on January 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was at a thrift store and took a chance. I read the back of the book and I must admit, the anorexic drag queen lured me in.
I bought this book for way under a dollar and it has been the best change I have ever spent.
This book is highly entertaining.
The descriptions that Beth Nugent uses are so sad and dark and beautiful. These descriptions haunt and delight me.
Grotesque and gorgeous.
This book touched me in so many ways. I found myself in a lot of the characters, from Catherine to Jerome.
Live Girls does paint a depressing picture but don't let that throw you off of this book. There is so much more.
This book is like reading a diary. We learn so much about Catherine's psyche.
I keep letters I find in the street and pictures I find at thrift stores. I sit and think of these people's lives.
I even carry a man's drivers license I found on my way home one day in my purse.
I love to learn about people and although Catherine isn't real, I've had a wonderful time learning about her.
The characters are very real and you do feel sorry for them.
Read this book with an open mind.
Beth Nugent is an excellent writer and I look forward to all of her books.
Take a chance and read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By m.j.hyland on March 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Live Girls is a novel suffused with an unforgettable atmosphere; the world it conjures can't easily be forgotten. Anybody who cares about the craft of writing (particularly aspiring writers), should read this book to learn how much can be done with a first person, intimate narrative, without 'writerly' showing off or horrible sentimentality. Yes, it's dark and creepy, but people who criticise the book on this basis seem to miss the point completely. I wish Nugent would write another book. Is there another book I don't know about?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
I bought this over a year ago and only got through about the first third before putting it down -- not from any shortcomings of the book, but simply because it was too damned dark and bleak for me to take at the time. I've since read it through, and have to say Nugent is a formidable writer -- whose groteque characters call to mind Flannery O'Connor, Marilynne Robinson, and the best of the nineteenth century Russians -- but her vision can be unflinchingly grim. Don't mix your downers, it can be lethal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
Actually, it isn't sure that she ever had one. But anyway, I loved Nugent's first book, City of Boys; and I find the same scary, detail-ridden, enjoyable (if you don't insist on taking it seriously) sense of humor here. I've read some negative reviews and I want to tell them, lighten up. No need to be like, or judge, Catherine to follow her journey.
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