‘Pure Hollywood’ by Christine Schutt

This story reads like a product of the seventh art: cinema. The principal setting, or set, is a house that is an architectural chef d’oeuvre, with a Hockney-esque pool and walls decorated by celebrity artists. After the demise of its owner, a supporting cast emerges to tot up the value of their potential inheritance, putting tabs on artworks in which their interest is purely financial. The leading lady witnesses the house being dismantled, and the gloss of her glamorous life cracks to reveal rot and emptiness. Everyone and everything is playing a part: the husband plays ‘Daddy’, the house plays ‘Home’ and laughs stand in for love, while art is deployed as a signifier of worth – or as a front for the lack of it. 

Collected in Pure Hollywood, published by And Other Stories, 2018