Friday, May 11, 2012

stone arabia by dana spiotta

Are you still an artist if you don't have an audience? In spare prose reminiscent of Joan Didion, Dana Spiotta tells the story of Nik and Denise Worth, aging siblings who grew up during the 1970s-80s in Los Angeles and were involved in the art scene, Nik as a member of up-and-coming local band the Fakes and Denise as an actress. When singer-songwriter Nik's break-out deal with a big label turned sour in the 1980s, he turned inward, and began writing the "Chronicles," or the documented fantasy life of a successful musician complete with fabricated album reviews. Although she have up acting decades earlier, Denise's life isn't completely meaningless. She has a daughter she loves and a guy she gets together with every couple of weeks, but ultimately her existence is streaked with regret and painful self- awareness that she "had strayed from an acceptable course, that our lives were going in the wrong direction: I actually thought those words, how far we have strayed, but I don’t know if that was accurate. That would imply we were on the right course at some point.” Now nearly 50, Nik works in a bar, continuing to record music in his home studio, and Denise spends her days as a personal assistant to a real-estate magnate. A studied look at a brother and sister who spent their youth in the marginal spaces of the 1970s art scene and their respective disappointment with middle-age in a world that worships the hero of the moment. Give this to fans of Joan Didion or anyone involved with the music industry. Grade 10+