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Dana Spiotta, whom Michiko Kakutani called "wonderfully observant and wonderfully gifted...with an uncanny feel for the absurdities and sadness of contemporary life" (The New York Times), has written a bold and moving novel about a fugitive radical from the 1970s who has lived in hiding for twenty-five years. Eat the Document is a hugely compelling story of activism, sacrifice, and the cost of living a secret. In the heyday of the 1970s underground, Bobby DeSoto and Mary Whittaker -- passionate, idealistic, and in love -- design a series of radical protests against the Vietnam War. When one action goes wrong, the course of their lives is forever changed. The two must erase their past, forge new identities, and never see each other again. Now it is the 1990s. Mary lives in the suburbs with her fifteen-year-old son, who spends hours immersed in the music of his mother's generation. She has no idea where Bobby is, whether he is alive or dead. Shifting between the protests in the 1970s and the consequences of those choices in the 1990s, Dana Spiotta deftly explores the connection between the two eras -- their language, technology, music, and activism. Character-driven and brilliant, Eat the Document is an important and revelatory novel about the culture of rebellion, with particular resonance now.
The Los Angeles Dana Spiotta evokes in her bold and strangely lyrical first novel is a land of Spirit Gyms and Miracle Miles, a great centerless place where chains of reference get lost, or finally don't matter. Mina lives with her screenwriter husband and works at her best friend Lorene's highly successful concept restaurants, which exploit the often unconscious desires and idiosyncrasies of a rich, chic clientele. Almost inadvertently, Mina has acquired two lovers. And then there are the other men in her life: her father, a washed-up Hollywood director living in a yurt and hiding from his debtors, and her disturbed brother, Michael, whose attempts to connect with her force Mina to consider that she might still have a heart -- if only she could remember where she had left it. Between her Spiritual Exfoliation and Detoxification therapies and her elaborate devotion to style, Lorene is interested only in charting her own perfection and impending decay. Although supremely confident in a million shallow ways, she, too, starts to fray at the edges. And there is Lisa, a loving mother who cleans houses, scrapes by, and dreams of food terrorists and child abductors, until even the most innocent events seem to hint at dark possibilities. Lightning Field explores the language tics of our culture -- the consumerist fetishes, the self-obsession and the Þeeting possibility that you just might have gotten it all badly wrong. In funny, cutting, unsentimental prose, Spiotta exposes the contradictions of contemporary lives in which "identity is a collection of references." She writes about overcoming not just despair but ambivalence. Playful and dire, raw and poetic, Lightning Field introduces a startling new voice in American fiction.
Stone Arabia, Dana Spiotta's moving and intrepid third novel, is about family, obsession, memory, and the urge to create--in isolation, at the margins of our winner-take-all culture. In the sibling relationship, "there are no first impressions, no seductions, no getting to know each other," says Denise Kranis. For her and her brother, Nik, now in their forties, no relationship is more significant. They grew up in Los Angeles in the late seventies and early eighties. Nik was always the artist, always wrote music, always had a band. Now he makes his art in private, obsessively documenting the work, but never testing it in the world. Denise remains Nik's most passionate and acute audience, sometimes his only audience. She is also her family's first defense against the world's fragility. Friends die, their mother's memory and mind unravel, and the news of global catastrophe and individual tragedy haunts Denise. When her daughter, Ada, decides to make a film about Nik, everyone's vulnerabilities seem to escalate. Dana Spiotta has established herself as a "singularly powerful and provocative writer" (The Boston Globe) whose work is fiercely original. Stone Arabia--riveting, unnerving, and strangely beautiful--reexamines what it means to be an artist and redefines the ties that bind.
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