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Stone Arabia: A Novel Paperback – July 10, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
“Added to the brilliant glitter of Ms. Spiotta’s earlier work...is something deeper and sadder: not just alienation, but a hard-won awareness of mortality and passing time... both a clever meditation on the feedback loop between life and art, and a moving portrait of a brother and sister, whose wild youth on the margins of the rock scene has given way to the disillusionments and vexations of middle age.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Is there a more electrifying novelist working than Dana Spiotta?...[Stone Arabia] makes for a sharp character study: A portrait of the artist as middle-aged never-was. Yet Spiotta’s genius is to recognize that Nik’s journey is representative not just for his sister or his mother but for every one of us.”—David Ulin, LA Times
“I read Stone Arabia avidly and with awe. The language of it, the whole Gnostic hipness of it is absolutely riveting. It comes together in the most artful, surprising, insistent, satisfying way. Dana Spiotta is a major, unnervingly intelligent writer.”—Joy Williams, author of The Quick and the Dead
“Fascinating...resonant...what’s most remarkable about Stone Arabia is the way Spiotta explores such broad, endemic social ills in the small, peculiar lives of these sad siblings. Her reflections on the precarious nature of modern life are witty until they’re really unsettling.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post
“Outstanding...Male American writers have talked about the incursion of the real into territory previously held by the novelist’s capacity for invention; but who before Spiotta has written about reality’s threat not to imagination but to memory itself?...An essential American writer.”—Jonathan Dee, Harper’s Magazine
“Transfixing...It’s as though Nabokov had written a rock novel.”—Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly
“Evocative, mysterious, incongruously poetic…gritty, intelligent, mordent, and deeply sad...Spiotta has created, in Stone Arabia, a work of visceral honesty and real beauty.”—Kate Christensen, The New York Times Book Review
“Dana Spiotta’s stunning, virtuoso novel Stone Arabia plays out the A and B sides of a sibling bond...”—Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair
“A smart, subtle, moving story about the complicated business of knowing the people you love...a wild, sorrowful, rambling, deeply subjective, incandescently beautiful document.”—Matthew Sharpe, Bookforum
"Stone Arabia is a rock n’ roll novel like no other. Where desire for legacy tangles with fantasy. And identity and memory are in and out of control. A loser’s game of conceit, deceit, passion, love and the raw mystery of superstar desire."—Thurston Moore
"Stone Arabia possesses the edged beauty and charged prose of Dana Spiotta’s earlier work, but in this novel about siblings, music, teen desire and adult decay, Spiotta reaches ever deeper, tracking her characters’ sweet, dangerous American dreaming with glorious precision. Here is a wonderful novel by one of our major writers."--Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask
“The book maps a post-punk milieu where the sense of completeness punk offered... never goes away. Spiotta can capture whole lives in the most ordinary transaction, and make it cut like X’s ‘Los Angeles’ or the Avengers’ ‘Car Crash.’"—Greil Marcus, The Believer
Spiotta is an epic and big-hearted novelist, one of my very favorite living writers – when I read her, I always fall in love again with America and American culture. She’s written about the 1960s underground, and Los Angeles, and, in a recent New Yorker story, the cult of 1970s telephone hackers. Here she takes on the American obsession with fame, and manages to say something new about that – and about American families. Spiotta is a prime example of the adage (which I might just now be making up) that to write a great novel requires a great heart. (George Saunders, author of Tenth of December)
Top Customer Reviews
Mining similar territory as Don Delillo's early novels - such as the influence of media in today's culture, the strangeness of human interaction, and the alterable nature of what we perceive as "reality" - it's no wonder why Delillo himself is a fan of Spiotta, and has championed her work since her debut novel "Lightning Fields."
She finds the weird and startling beauty of what we know as everyday life. Dissecting with surgical precision until the disassembled parts are entirely familiar yet wholly unrecognizable.
The two siblings in the novel have a somewhat distant and yet tender relationship. The brother, Nik, has created an alternate reality in which he is a once famous and now reclusive rock star. His sister's life is slowly unravelling around her as she begins to fear that her brother may have painful plans for his future.
The way this story is told is what makes the novel so compulsive. Several reviews have compared it to Jennifer Egan's "A Visit From The Goon Squad," and while Egan is certainly talented, Spiotta writes circles around her. Just reading some of the passages about 24 hour cable news channels rang so true it was astonishing.
This is a highly recommended book for fans of Don Delillo, Paul Auster, Samuel Beckett, and any other author that makes you fall asleep thinking about the grandness of life in all it's exquisitely painful and beautiful moments.
This is NOT an average read. This is why one reads fiction. Spiotta's insight into the deepest part of her character's is why one should be thankful fiction is still being written with this much truth.
This is not an easy story, or one that one should hope to have neat and satisfying resolution. This is profound storytelling that deserves slow reading, partially because the writing is so beautiful, but more because it has lessons for those who are willing to stay and listen.
This book is the tale of Nik Worth, a musician and bartender who has created the "Chronicles" of his alter ego-- a fantasy rock star who is far more successful in his music career than Nik himself was. He also releases albums of his alter ego's music to family and friends who still humor him by listening to increasingly experimental work. His Chronicles include such documentation as fake music reviews and interviews with the more successful parallel-universe Nik. Meanwhile, Nik's sister Denise trudges along through life taking care of everyone and everything for her family, and getting increasingly absorbed in stories she sees on the news.
The aspects of this book that I liked book include the detailed inspection of reality vs. illusion and how those boundaries can be crossed for better or for worse. Denise's obsession with the news and her over-identification with the stories she sees mirrors Nik's creation of a completely different life from the one he lives. I didn't much like Nik, but then I don't think that I was supposed to. If he were in my life I would find him utterly unbearable. He represents the worst of what can happen when we sleepwalk through life without seeing the truth around and about ourselves. Denise, on the other hand, is busy taking in all the truth to the point that she has trouble separating her real life from what she sees in the news.Read more ›
This nostalgic and affecting story of siblings (and family) is a philosophical meditation on memory and the driven desire for autobiography--to document and render a consequential life, and to assemble disparate experiences into coherent narratives. "And even then," says Denise, "the backward glance is distorted by the lens of the present...It is not just that emotions distort memory. It is that memory distorts memory."
At the vortex of this novel is fifty-year-old Nik Kranis, aka his alter ego, Nik Worth, a pre-punk, no-hit wonder, LA musician, whose band The Fakes almost made it twenty years ago. "Nik had the sensibility down. And Nik had the look down. He was born to look pasty and skinny and angular."
But a combination of self-sabotage and solipsism undermined commercial success, and Nik alternately constructed a legendary career in music via his manufactured narrative, "The Chronicles." Stretching back from1973-2004, "The Chronicles" is a thirty-volume reinvention of a life, a daily scrapbook and fictionalized biography of Nik Worth, platinum rock star. It is a career arc so detailed and spectacular that it would rival Dylan's.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Too many details about things that did not matter to the narrative. Story was somewhat interesting but the writing made me skip-read most of the book. Read morePublished 28 days ago by My Thoughts
After reading an ecstatic review of this novel in a literary journal, I bought it with high hopes. In fact, I bought two copies, one for me and one for my wife, so that we could... Read morePublished on April 9, 2014 by Talent House
There were a lot of things about this book I enjoyed and my ultimate disappointment with it probably has more to do with me than with the book. Read morePublished on February 3, 2014 by Elizabeth
Other reviewers have pretty much said it all. It's an interesting enough read, very nicely written ( although the Chronicles' small italics print was hard to read), and the... Read morePublished on August 31, 2013 by August West
Slow and nothing happens. Uninteresting characters. Author has interesting writing style. Not sure what the hype is about. Read morePublished on June 11, 2013 by SSLYBY
I had just heard Dana Spiotta read from this novel at AWP, the huge writiers' conference which was held in Boston a few weeks ago. Read morePublished on March 31, 2013 by Nina Gaby
A microscopic study of a musical eccentric and family.
Great companion piece for Jennifer Egan's A visit from the Goon Squad.
I read the whole book, but only because I needed to find out how it got its title. Well, it didn't get to that until the end, and I was disappointed in that. Read morePublished on February 11, 2013 by ILUVCOOKIES