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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Altered Reality
Following up her bestselling "Eat The Document," Dana Spiotta moves forward in her writing and sets her eyes on a brother / sister relationship that defies expectation.

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...
Published on July 24, 2011 by Tyler Jones

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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An average read
I initially had a hard time writing a review for this book, so I took some time to think about it for a few days to determine whether I got more or less satisfied with it after some time passed. Stone Arabia is a unique tale of reality vs. illusion, but at times it seemed foiled by its own conceit.

This book is the tale of Nik Worth, a musician and bartender...
Published on July 25, 2011 by EJ


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Novel of Unrealized Potential, August 23, 2011
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This book was disappointing. Denise and Nik drew me in, but the author did not give them enough attention. Nik's Chronicles and art deserved more development and maybe even illustration. Likewise, Denise's trip to Stone Arabia is intriguing, but undeveloped. In short, the author created very interesting characters, but did not give them their due. The author was also interested in producing a convincing portrait of LA's music scene, but the novel is a mere 256 pages, leaving plenty of space for more character development.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and heartbreaking story about music, family, memory, and fame..., August 5, 2012
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Dana Spiotta's third novel is a sometimes moving, poetic story about family, fame, memory, fear of loss and obsession--and how each can take their toll on life.

Nik Worth, born Nicholas Kranis, was a musician on the fringes of celebrity in the late 1970s. After his period of minor fame passed, he continued making music under the guise of several fictional bands (and record labels)--and obsessively building a fictional chronicle of his career, authoring myriad reviews, fan magazine interviews, news articles and other memorabilia. While this expansive fantasy world Nik has created troubles Denise, his younger sister, she has issues of her own. In caring for their mother, who is in the early stages of dementia, Denise is convinced she is losing her own mind, and worries she will have no one to take care of her. And to top that off, Denise gets fixated on tragedies reported in the media, from childhood abductions, hostage crises, prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, etc. When Denise's daughter, Ada, decides to make a documentary about Nik's life and art, it opens everyone up to anxiety about truth, art, fact and fiction, and Denise realizes for the first time that everything isn't headed in the right direction.

I love books that explore the creative process, especially in the music world, and Stone Arabia is a really compelling look at the obsession with art, creativity and fame. When the book explores Nik and Denise's relationship, the book is at its strongest, because so many of us can identify with the way people slip into the same roles when dealing with their loved ones. This is a fascinating and heartbreaking story, but pieces of the story--particularly a strange road trip Denise takes near the end of the book--don't ring as true as others. In the end, Spiotta is a terrific storyteller, and I found myself hooked from start to finish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authenticity Rocks, July 27, 2012
By 
Jennifer Spiegel (Phoenix, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stone Arabia: A Novel (Paperback)
An authentic portrait of an artist? An authentic portrait of a forty-seven-year-old woman who loves an artist? I loved this book for its authenticity, its intimacy. And, interestingly enough, the story centers around a musician who creates his own fake, non-authentic rock n' roll legacy.

The narrator watches the news. There is, often within these pages, a kind of juxtaposition between the external and the internal: the reporting of a story and the workings of the mind, the Hollywood buzz and the truth behind the glamour. There is this: "A breaking story was in progress. Everything was always in progress and yet still breaking" (117).

Stone Arabia captures many private moments, private meditations. In this passage, the narrator describes her youthful trips to the clubs with her big brother, Nik. "We don't have sex, not yet, and we rarely drink much or do any drugs . . . We just want to be out and around the sex and drugs, the hip adults; we want to hear the good music, and we want--most of all--to be looked at and desired. We want to feel that desire the way you feel the hot sun burning down on your head. We want it to cover us and make us glow" (231). How to get to the heart of that pre-sexual but sexual line between innocence and experience? Desire is at its heart.

Well, that's just a minor moment. This book captures quite well, I thought, the way the artistic temperament--which does pretty much elude definition--works. The narrator's brother is the novel's centerpiece. Though I was super intrigued by the life of this woman and I thoroughly enjoyed the exposed intimacies of her mind, Nik's music and manipulations are the real focus. What makes one an artist? Is it the fame, the recognition by others, the compulsion to produce art independent of affirmation?

Though I won't reveal the last three lines (but I could without giving away the story), I think Spiotta makes a rather profound connection between desire and artistry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Siblings, April 27, 2012
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This review is from: Stone Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
Literary novels can concentrate on the lives of characters in ways that lead readers to deep insights into our human condition. Dana Spiotta's novel, Stone Arabia, performs that feat with skill and efficiency over the course of about 250 pages. The protagonists are siblings, Denise and Nik, and while this sibling relationship provides context, what Spiotta explores are the ways in which awareness can lead to isolation, especially when it comes to our knowledge of world events. Anyone who has experienced difficult and challenging relationships, particularly with close family members, will find Spiotta's sensitive treatment of these relationships to be sensitive and profound. Readers who enjoy fine writing should pick up this novel.

Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rocking and Rolling Book!, March 11, 2012
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This review is from: Stone Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
After seeing that Stone Arabia was named one of the NY Times 100 Notable Books of 2011 and hearing gushing recommendations from so many people, I picked it up this weekend and finished it in almost one sitting. I was not at all dissapointed. Dana Spiotta crafts a story told by Denise--a middle aged, lightly employed woman who has a brother Nik who is similarly lightly famous (at least in a few people's eyes) for music he recorded via a number of not so recognized bands over the course of 20 albums and 30 or so years. Denise's daughter Ada the product of a few-night stand many years ago decides to make a movie about Nik's "career" and his recording of the "Chronicles" of his life. This leads to much worry on the part of Denise who is concerned about Nik's already fragile ego and alcoholic tendencies. A very good book that exposes sibling relationships at its rawest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Master Spiotta..., January 27, 2012
This review is from: Stone Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
Some of the criticisms I've read of this book seem possible- yet- F that. This was a great book: entertaining, poetic, moving. I, for one, did find concern for the characters. These people felt, and you felt for them. Maybe she doesn't give you tons of flesh to sink your lonely, needy teeth into-- but c'mon, how much of an empathic vampire are you? Well, if you do suck fictional blood, maybe you need go elsewhere... certainly enough sustenance for me.

I think it's greatest hits are it's language and it's voice. It's a very conversational, easy, yet, verbally tasty read. I didn't need alot of blather to feel these characters- perhaps because, I too, am of the culture of el rock de roll--- but, if I were to say that this book puts you in a place, a time, a feeling-- these things to me give it real heft-- and this book certainly delivers those things. Dee Dee's detail of experience, and Nik's detail of fantasy and creation-- delivered in Spiotta's deliciousness make this book Worth your time. If you didn't get enough vibes from this book then you're seriously not paying attention. These people are talking to you, without beating you over the head and without banality. If you dig the arts, the need for it despite feedback-- if you just feel the compulsion to revel in your own creativity and are amused to pretend this world cares, or you love someone like this--- then HEY, check this book out. She can write. She can write you in circles. Stiv Stereo might even like this book. Dana Spiotta has something to offer. Don't make her write her own review, but if so, by gawd I hope she writes.

"Pity is simply hate without the respect." -GS -DK -NW -NK -DS
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The future of my own brother and me, December 13, 2011
This review is from: Stone Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
This books is honestly a future portrait of my own big brother and myself in 20 odd years, except maybe the disappearance/ possible death of the brother hopefully. I feel that the Spiotta did an amazing job at conveying the complicated brother sister relationship. It is not an easy bond to describe.I think that someone who does not have a sibling will be able to understand what goes on between a brother and sister and not think they are oddly close.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Goon Squad, August 17, 2012
This review is from: Stone Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
I love this book. It was engaging and deeply sentimental. Above all it captured the Zeitgeist, the sense of slow loss, ennui, and disconnect that comes with middle age in today's fractured America.
In comparison to Egan's Goon Squad, which also uses music as a centerpiece, I found Stone Arabia to work better. It felt more realistic and didn't need to rely on gimmicks.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Literary Fiction, December 27, 2011
By 
Chris (Portland, OR, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Stone Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
Middle-aged Denise is afraid that she, like her mother, is starting to lose her memory. Her older brother, Nik, has no such concern, since he creates his own past as he goes. In reality, thirty-odd years ago, Nik had near miss with rock and roll fame. Since then, he has kept an elaborate work called The Chronicles, where he documents a fictional career of fame and riches. It's complete with CDs that Nik has recorded either by himself or with an imaginary band, complete with imaginary band-mates with their own personalities and biographies. The Chronicle has liner notes, reviews, fan letters, and interviews, all of it composed and painstakingly produced by Nik. Things begin to unravel for him, though, when Denise's adult daughter begins work on a documentary of Nik and The Chronicles.

Just as Nik lives through his fictional documentation of himself and spends much less time and effort in the world that you and I share, so Denise spends vast amounts of time online, getting vicarious emotional experiences from tragedies that she seeks out on the Internet. It's a sad meditation on how old habits inform and constrict people's emotional life. It would probably be quite depressing if Spiotta wasn't such a great writer. She can take very mundane things and fill them with a tremendous amount of meaning. Here is an example where Denise is talking with her daughter Ada over a glass of wine.

Ada took a sip of her pink wine. She took a drag off her cigarette. I know this is an awful thing to say about your kid, but she looked good with a cigarette. I thought this, even knowing how my brother fell into long hawking fits every morning. And coughing fits throughout the day. Bronchitis every winter. But when a young person smokes, it is different. It just underlines their excess life. It looks appealing and reminds you they feel as if they have life to spare. They have such luxury of time that they can flirt with lethal addictions. They have plenty of time to heal and repair later. A young woman like Ada would eventually discard these things. When you are old, like Nik, when it is a very old habit, smoking looks mostly like a reckless delusion. But for Ada it was an abundance, a kind of fun, a kick off of a shoe, a sip of pink champagne.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hat Trick!, July 16, 2011
This review is from: Stone Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
She's done it again! Her third magnificent novel is a beaut. I read about 3 books a month and not the junk that gets to the top of the bestseller lists. Have you ever read something that was so wonderful, you just wanted to take the author and tie her to a chair in front of her computer and don't set her free until she's finished with another book? My shortlist of great (new) writers:

Dana Spiotta
Dan Chaon
Tom Rachman
Jonathan Ferris
Stuart O'Nan (not new)
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Stone Arabia: A Novel
Stone Arabia: A Novel by Dana Spiotta (Hardcover - July 12, 2011)
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