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Stone Arabia Hardcover – 7 Jun 2012

9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd (7 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857863738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857863737
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.4 x 22 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 546,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

I fell right into Stone Arabia. From the first page I was won over by Spiotta's intelligence, charm and empathy. I loved it - Patrick deWitt, author of the Man Booker-shortlisted THE SISTERS BROTHERS

About the Author

Dana Spiotta is the author of Eat the Document, which was nominated for a National Book Award. Her first novel, Lightning Field, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the West. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and both the Rome Prize and the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Spiotta teaches in the MFA prgram at Syracuse University and lives in New York with her husband and daughter.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. Millar VINE VOICE on 3 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An elegant and simple novel which put me in mind of Anne Tyler, even though the author has been compared to Don Delillo.

The sparse narrative follows Denise Kranis as she trys to make sense of how own life and her brother's, Nik, who has retreated into a fantasy world where he is an important rock star. Nik records his own music and makes detailed records of his 'career' in what he calls his Chronicles - he is essentially making music for a fanbase of one - himself.

The novel deals with loss (memory, people, innocence, purity) and makes the case for art for it's own sake where there is no audience - especially in a world where everyone is now encouraged to participate and create for everyone to see, and people are now constantly in the spotlight and clamouring to be heard. Nik clamours to be unheard and unseen. It also deals with information overload and the fear and uncertainty this can create - Denise is a hypochondriac and news junkie who feels more and more unsettled the more information she sees and consumes.

Overall a perceptive and intelligent read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Zipster Zeus on 12 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I must admit in recent years to have become very critical of the `literary novel' genre. Too many times books really do not live up to expectations and, increasingly, appear to be written by a select group of publishing world insiders/luvvies, favoured Eng. Lit. `intellectuals', and a scattering of other residents of pseuds corner that are currently being smiled upon by the august protectors of the `Literary Establishment.'

Well this may be a bit of a death wish on my part as I can sense all you sensitive types itching to press the negative feedback button, but I really don't care any more. This book is yet another of the `fails to live up to expectations/hype/serious-publication-says-must-read-reviews' canon, and to my mind, is actually a bit rubbish.

The premise of Stone Arabia is promising enough and seems to be interestingly contemporary, with perhaps the potential for a serious take on popular culture in the offing. That's what attracted me to the book initially, anyway. But sadly, it falls flat almost from the outset.

The story centres on the relationship of late forty-something Denise and her brother, Nik, a talented but ultimately failed rock musician who very quickly in his youth withdrew into a fantasy world, where he fills shelves in his home with his `Chronicles'- essentially made up diaries of his music/bands/reviews/tours/album artwork etc etc. Throughout this time he has however worked in a bar, and produced music for an audience of on average two people- him and his sister.

It's a good basis for tale, but unfortunately Spiotta gets all the emphasis wrong. We don't get enough of Nik, who is a fascinating character, and too much of his sister Denise who is, to be blunt, terminally boring.
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By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Mar. 2015
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Gosh I wanted to love this book. Don De Lillo recommends her; it's about rock music, which the novel doesn't yet seem to have tackled satisfactorily. And the premise is fascinating: Denise, the main character, has a brother called Nik who has lived his whole adult life constructing a fantasy alternative existence as a famous rockstar in a fictional band.

The writing style is clear and true, but I didn't find it especially exciting; yet the real problem for me I think was a structural one about how you tell such a story. It begins for example with a momentous scene where Nik receives his first guitar, but for such a modest and quietly-wrought piece of writing, the word that sprung to my mind was 'pompous'. It just felt... a bit pompous, the way the story is told. There is fictionalised diary, filmscript, point of view changes, in the book, all of which you hope is going to bring it to life: "Nik's art was his life. And I don't know what that means about a life. I have always resisted artistic impulses of any kind."
I felt the book explained too much, and didn't allow me to figure stuff out for myself, or ponder the characters. Yets it comes garlanded with recommendations from Michiko Kakutani no less. Or perhaps that should actually have put me off. Anyway, early Don de Lillo, no. Someone else might love it. I was left cool.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By BS on parade on 1 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I recently watched a below average 90s Ed Harris, Madeleine Stowe noir film called China Moon. Its title comes from Ed Harris remarking that his mother used to say that a full moon looked like a china plate. It's a meaningless aside that has no creepy, romantic, dramatic, poetic or sounds good resonance. They could have just as easily called the film The Piss of a Sick Man after Stowe saying that her husband used to call the pen she is holding that due to its colour. I can only assume they went with China Moon as a nod to Chinatown (a movie with a near meaningless title, but loaded with creepy, romantic, dramatic, poetic and sounds good resonance).

I thought that it would be a long time before I would come across another artistic work with as atrocious a title. A week later and Stone Arabia turns up. It's almost meaningless and will probably turn off more than a few possible readers who think it's going to be about the Middle East. The title has no creepy, romantic, dramatic, poetic or sounds good resonance. I think the author shot herself in the foot with that awful title, and that her publishers should be asking themselves what good they are if they let things like this happen. Are they against selling more than two copies? Off the top of my head they could have used one of the album titles, such as Take Me Home and Make Me Fake It (or a shortened version), as a better title.

At the centre of the book is a fascinating literary creation. The character of Nik Worth is properly, authentically and endlessly intriguing. He is a creative type with a sense of humour.
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