Innocents and Others

Dana Spiotta. Scribner, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5011-2272-9
Spiotta (Stone Arabia) tackles the slippery nature of identity and the destructive pull of desire in her fourth novel—this time through the lens of film. Having lived in Los Angeles since the 1980s, best friends Meadow and Carrie are both successful filmmakers, but their approach to art and life couldn’t be more different. Married and strapped with a family, Carrie’s films are breezy crowd-pleasers, while solo Meadow’s searing documentaries pick at the scabs of their subjects’ shortcomings. One of Meadow’s early films tracks an outcast boy’s disastrous experimentation with sex. Another of her “heavy, invisible, unremarkable” subjects is 41-year-old Jelly, aka Nicole—whose sad but captivating backstory Spiotta explores over the course of sporadic chapters—seduces Hollywood men over the phone but self-consciously vanishes when they ask to meet in person. As the book progresses, both women’s lives spiral downward—Carrie’s home life is hollow, Meadow’s self-destructive narcissism ends her career—leaving neither fulfilled. Eschewing linear storytelling in favor of chapters interspersed with scene and interview transcripts and paragraphs of film theory, Spiotta delivers a patchwork portrait of two women on the verge of two very different nervous breakdowns. True to form, the effect is like watching raw footage before it’s been edited—sometimes moving, often disjointed, always thought provoking. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/14/2015
Release date: 03/08/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-5011-2275-0
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-1403-8
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-5011-2273-6
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