Garbo Laughs

Garbo Laughs

Elizabeth Hay

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 1582432910

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

From the award-winning author of A Student of Weather , a funny, sad-eyed novel about a woman caught between real love and movie love--and real love doesn't stand a chance. This is a novel about movie love. Set in Ottawa in the 1990s, it is the quixotic tale of tall, thin Harriet Browning, inflamed by the movies she was deprived of as a child. Bent on seeing everything she has missed, she rapidly becomes so saturated with old movies, seen repeatedly and swallowed whole, that she no longer fits into this world. Equally addicted are her 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. Breaking in upon this quiet backwater, in time with the devastating ice storm of 1998, come two refugees from Hollywood, the jaded widow of a famous screenwriter and her movie-expert stepson. They are Harsh Reality. With them come blackouts, arguments, accidents, illness, and sudden death. But what chance does real life stand when we can watch movies instead? What hope does real love have when movie love, in all its brief intensity, is an easy option? In this brilliant and poignant comedy of secondhand desire, movies and movie lovers come first.

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problem he had to crack, this son of a melancholy building inspector whose nervous breakdown at fifty-four had delivered young Lew and his brother into the tender hands of their grandparents for several summers, in this very house. Late one night, when Lew and Harriet were folding the tablecloth after a dinner party, Lew said, “A beautiful colour. My father’s favourite colour.” “Coral,” she said. “Salmon. My father would have said salmon. One time at dinner we were eating lobster and he kept

luck of being chosen not for dislike but for love, for a certain kind of hostile love, Harriet’s nervousness was fuelled, stoked, whipped up by thoughts of Leah and her difficult ways. The way she settled on you, for instance, as her favourite. The way she adopted you and referred to you as one of her “kids,” the way she wanted to have a following of young people who would admire and amuse her, the way she played one favourite off another out of some bedrock conviction – where on earth did it

“But then Lew’s not good enough for her.” Dinah stared at him, a strawberry halfway to her mouth. What sort of talk was this? What sort of mean, muddled thinking? For a moment she felt like her mother when she’d been given by her future mother-in-law a badly tangled hairnet to untangle, as a test. Once she’d untangled it, and it took her an hour, her mother-in-law decided that she would do. Ida was suitable to marry her David. But how to untangle all of these personal threads? Apparently, Jack

her coat on, she said, “Why don’t you ask her to the movies? The Mayfair’s right around the corner.” “When I go to the Mayfair,” he said, “I take a pillow.” “I take two Tylenols.” And it was at that moment – as they were thinking about the killer seats in the Mayfair movie theatre – that Harriet Browning had her idea, and she told him what it was. She would take over the empty Strand. She would run a movie house, like Pauline Kael. The movies would be old movies and they would be cheap. “You

to go home. She would phone them when she was ready to be picked up. They walked over the treacherous, littered ground and once again they found themselves talking about her. “She’s a tortured soul,” said Lew, and Dinah had to smile. “There’s always something,” he said to her, “and it’s almost nothing.” Dinah could see it. The tiniest speck of egg yolk and the meringue fell. “Not this time,” she said. “Not this time,” he agreed. “The trouble is she gets over-ambitious. Overaggressive. It

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