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Stone Arabia: A Novel Audio Download – Unabridged

3.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 4 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 13 July 2011
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005CIJT3Y
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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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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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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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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An intriguing read based on the journal writings of Denise Kranis. Denise is single mother to Ada who is a budding young film-maker, and daughter to a woman with the onset of dementia, and sister to Nik Worth: the worlds biggest solipsistic rock musician.

An uncomfortable read overall, though thought provoking. Nik takes narcissism or the Selfie culture to a whole new level, writing reviews of his fictional band (his Chronicles) and wanting only the audience of his immediate family. Anyone who has had a sibling who is delusionally self-absorbed should understand the position of the non-favourite sibling, the position in the family Denise holds. Although they are supposedly close, I understood that Denise was justifiably angry with Nik and his inability to deal with the real world and constant sponging from her. His entire existence is parasitical. Denise gets over-identified with people from news stories, getting anxiety and insomnia from her news feeds. She has a job and a boyfriend called Jay but seems more identified with the news than with either the job or Jay. She takes this to a whole new level - outside her inner world and into the real world at the end of the novel.

Overall then, the main characters, mother, sister and brother are living parallel fantasy lives but have no real intimacy. I think it is this emotional isolation that left me cold. Narcissism, mind you, is essentially cold. There was no real passion or real love here - just sibling rivalry. I was glad to see the back of Nik Worth, I could almost smell the cigarette smoke on him.
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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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