two posts, I really loved Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta. The story is that of a brother and a sister through the brother's attempts to achieve success in the music industry. The sister, Denise, is clearly the brother's biggest fan. The brother, Nik, comes closest to making it big twenty years before present day in the novel.
Spiotta is telling the story not of the "one hit wonder", but of a no hit wonder, as Denise observes. When Nik realizes that critics aren't going to write about him, he writes his own reviews. When there are no longer newspaper clippings to put into a scrapbook, Nik makes his own scrapbook, featuring what could have happened, as though it really did. Nik creates bands, puts out CDs and even invents elaborate back stories for all of the band members, who are all really Nik himself. Denise is somewhat concerned about the degree of attention that Nik pays to his alternate universe, but is also somewhat in awe. Nik's attention to detail is such that, as he brags, if his Chronicles were to be discovered in the future, they would be believed as truth.
In addition to being Nik's biggest (only?) fan, Denise fills her time by taking care of her mother who is drifting into dementia, and struggling to have a relationship with her boyfriend and her daughter. When Denise's daughter, Ada, decides to make a documentary about Nik, to show the world what an amazing artist he is, Denise questions her own loyalties, and her long held convictions. Spiotta (through Denise) defines a family as being several people who all share in the same delusion. Whether Nik is suffering under a delusion, or is an under appreciated genius, is the key question that Denise just can't answer.
Spiotta's writing seems effortless. Stone Arabia is only 235 pages, and it whizzed right by. I would have liked another 200 pages, and it seemed as if Spiotta might have had enough material to fill that many pages, but just decided that it wasn't necessary. The story ends without tying up neatly, and really, it's better that way.
If you liked A Visit to the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, you will love Stone Arabia. Like Goon Squad, Stone Arabia seems to give the reader an insight into the music industry, and into the souls of the artists. I think that I will add this one to my list of Favorites as well. I haven't said all that I would like to say about Stone Arabia, but I'm worried that what I still want to say might spoil the story for you. If you would like to read my Stone Arabia spoilers, click here.
One more down for the Support your Library Challenge!
Next up: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
Still Listening to: Following Atticus by Tom Ryan