Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We Get Meta on Your Asses With A Review of Dana Spiotta's Stone Arabia / Dirty Dillons of the Future / Podcast of the Week: Hospital Ships vs. ADD

If you're like us, you love pretentious postmodern literature and you love rock and roll, so what a treat when a novel like Dana Spiotta's Stone Arabia comes along.

Remember last summer when we all read Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad, with its 60 page power-point presentation about great "rock and roll pauses?" It went on to win the Pulitzer, of course. Is the same fate in store for Spiotta's tale of a rock star who obsessively and often fictionally chronicles his life in a document called The Chronicles? Let's hope so.

Here's an excerpt from the book (borrowed from an NPR review):

"Nik's Chronicles adhered to the facts and then didn't. When Nik's dog died in real life, his dog died in The Chronicles. But in The Chronicles he got a big funeral and a tribute album. Fans sent thousands of condolence cards. But it wasn't always clear what was conjured. The music for the tribute album for the dog actually exists, as does the cover art for it ... But the fan letters didn't exist. In this way Nik chronicled his years in minute-but-twisted detail."

And an excerpt from the review itself:

"Critics often use adjectives like "smart," "brilliant" and "intelligent" to refer to Spiotta's work because she tackles philosophical subjects in an edgy collage-type style that jumbles together time frames and narrative modes. She even throws around words like "ontological. If all that sounds off-putting, be assured that Spiotta's novels are post-modern without the chill: character development and the spiky nuances of family relationships are always a central concern."

Richard: "I'm sold already. I rarely have a single conversation that doesn't use the word 'ontological.' However, I prefer my postmodern novels to be very 'chilly' in a DeLillo-esque way that doesn't allow for deep emotional connection."

Chip: "Aren't Nik's Chronicles in the novel sort of frighteningly similar to our own aesthetic of blending Larryville cultural reality with manufactured personas."

Richard: "Shut up, Chip. Everything here is real."

The NPR review praises the novel's postmodern ambiguity:

"You could imagine someone discovering The Chronicles 100 years from now and heralding Nik as some outsider-artist genius; or, just as plausibly, you could consider The Chronicles as a testament to a wasted life; the work of a troubled mind. Or both. Stone Arabia evades answers and instead encourages an open-minded blurring of the lines between lived experience and fantasy; art which is authorized vs. art which is un-vetted. The form of this novel itself revels in the confusion: Stone Arabia juggles letters and diary entries; CD liner notes and obituaries — some false, some all too true."

Look for us at the Pig today, each of us with a copy of this book in our hands, occasionally taking a break for an ontological debate. Do you believe us?


The City Fathers officially approved plans for the new Dillons on Mass. Street last night. So long, Dirty Dillons. Say hello to the Dirty Dillons of the future (which looks a bit like a prison, at least in this rendering):

On the LJ-World talkback, Consumer1 says: "The rendering looks great! But, if that is Mass street shouldn't it have pot holes, cracks and tar all over the road?"


If you scenesters are STILL not burned out on Hospital Ships, make sure to download BARRR's new ADD podcast with Jordan Geiger. It contains a story about "seeing the Strokes get beaten up in Lawrence,", which alone is surely worth your time today. Get it here .

Now, Carry On.

Chip: "Is 'Carry On' a Hospital Ships reference? I haven't heard the album yet."

No comments: