7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Literary Study in Terminal Boringness- not for the faint hearted,
This review is from: Stone Arabia (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (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. In fact the whole book gets off on the wrong foot by too soon including an over lengthy faux letter from the Chronicles supposedly written by Denise but of course written by Nik, charting Denise's anxieties, failures, shortcomings and one-dimensionality. Unfortunately upon encountering the real Denise, there is nothing to dispel the notion that Nik was actually spot on, and there is nothing more to say.
It is this concentration on Denise that really is the downfall of this book as far as I'm concerned. There is too much of her and her...relentless boringness. Now if the author was trying to make this a study of how boring a person can be, well fair enough; but a captivating read, it does not make.
So another `Literary Event' that will come and go to the eventual lasting interest of only a few darlings in the US/UK chattering classes. Personally, I'm going to cheer myself up now by reading a book with strippers in it.
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Initial post: 20 Sep 2012 09:49:16 BDT
BS on parade says:
Very good review.
I think it's a book that doesn't have much to offer for the non-music press reader. It would be interesting to have the context for your review if you can confirm if you regularly read music magazines or blogs?
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