Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta


Denise has always been the number one fan of her brother, Nik.  When they were teenagers, she was there when he got his first guitar and began obsessively to play.  She was there as he made and ended bands and there for his fame.  But something happened and now Nik makes his music for only a few people.  He is secretive and gives only a few a chance to hear what he is doing now.  If he were to go to a doctor, he might be diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic but he would never go.

Denise is the one who holds everything together.  She watches after her mother who is failing.  She raised a daughter, Ada, who is now across the country at a university studying film-making.  She works a job that brings her no joy just to keep everything going.  When Ada decides to make a film about her uncle Nik and his devotion to music even when no one else hears it, things start to fall apart. 

This is an exploration about family.  Our sibling relationships are our earliest ones except for our parents and for most of us never are totally severed.  There are memories of things shared and development of our world views.  No one else has the memories of our parents and as they fail and leave, no one else remembers them the same.  But what responsibility do we owe our siblings?  Do they have a call on us that is a lifelong obligation or should we break free of old ties?  Dana Spiotta explores this theme in an intuitive way that rings true to the reader.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and family relatioinships.

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