Stone Arabia

Stone Arabia

A Novel

Book - 2011 | 1st Scribner hardcover ed
Average Rating:
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Sharing a close bond that supersedes other relationships, Nik, a fiercely reclusive musician, and Denise, his dedicated sister and solitary audience member, become increasingly isolated in the wake of Nik's obsessive work.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2011
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781451617979
1451617976
9781451617962
1451617968
Branch Call Number: x
Characteristics: 239 pages ; 23 cm

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l
libsor
Feb 25, 2013

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.

t
tegan
Dec 15, 2011

I had such hope for this book as it had been compared in the New Yorker to 'Freedom' and 'The Goon Squad'. I liked both of these books, but this book was a bit of a flop. The voice of the book is strange. And the plot is annoying...it is all about a sister talking about her brothers music career and his fake scrapbooking. I do not recommend this.

b
burleighsmith
Oct 14, 2011

Wonderful tale of a sister’s love for her rock-obsessed brother. The brother could-of-been-a rock art star (think Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth), but principles—or something—got in the way, and instead, he created his mythology and art for an audience of only his immediate few fans. The voice we hear telling us this tale is that of his devoted sister. Her predicament is arresting. Being in the shadows of wanna be rock star guys who can’t grow up, she doesn’t grow up. Although being a member of the responsible gender, she does carry her share of responsibilities—making up for her brother. If you were born late ‘50s or so and were caught in the glow of the nihilist punk rock scene, this imaginative fabrication should delight you. I liked Jennifer Egan’s A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD, but would recommend this first. Dan Spiotta is less about spinning a clever story and more about getting to the soul of these lost aging rockers.

kcs76 Oct 10, 2011

A novel about memory, obsession, delusion, and reality. It's well written, the characters are interesting (if not compelling), but somehow the whole thing feels like an exercise by the star pupil in an advanced fiction writing workshop. I guess there is such a thing as too much craft.

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