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Innocents and Others: A Novel by Dana…

Innocents and Others: A Novel (2016)

by Dana Spiotta

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
felt a bit rigid, i guess is the word. formulaic in places. quotations consistently use "I am doing" "I will go" patterns. "backstory" feels often a formality for reaching a goal, particularly for jelly.

and meadow feels an attempted ablution for the author. one of those "self-aware meta-characters that's really the author being self-aware and meta through another layer of indirection". maybe carrie a bit too, though she's less a character than a foil. not sure if this is a bad thing, really; definitely happens a lot elsewhere. just like sitting in on someone else's therapy session, is all.

fairly interesting overall. some nice little details here and there; the waterside filming / dunking bit stuck in my head. something interesting framed with "bleh, i'm fat and 14... )=".

the interleaved bits of film don't really work, though. s'fine in something like The Dreamers because also film and uses only very small snippets to contrast or explain without words. here, though, they read like vague synopses summarised from wikipedia, particularly jarring and painful when you've seen the film being referenced.

so yeh, worth taking a look, but probably won't be a lasting obsession
  shmibs | Jun 3, 2017 |
I began reading this book armed only with the knowledge that a person whose taste in books is similar to mine made an off-hand comment about it being very good. The title gave me the expectation of the book being a collection of short stories, which was only the first surprising thing about this novel. I didn't even read the dust jacket until the book turned abruptly from being one story into being a very different one, and I think I was lucky in approaching Innocents and Others in complete ignorance about it.

Innocents and Others centers on Meadow, a driven young filmmaker, who has a strong friendship with Carrie, another filmmaker. As their lives progress from high school to adulthood, their friendship shifts in the way of adult friends whose lives have moved in different directions. But more than friendship, this book is about filmmaking and a passion for films and how they are made, with both women pursuing different visions in that art form. There's a lot of the detail of how films are made, the history of film and detailed accounts of each of Meadow's documentary films. It was fascinating, and I ended up looking up some of her topics to learn more.

I suspect that Innocents and Others would not appeal to everyone. It's an emotionally raw novel that is nonetheless written in a distancing way and the details of film-making may not prove fascinating for all readers. I loved this book, with its unapologetic focus on female friendship and the complexities of relationships. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | May 15, 2017 |
This was very ambitious but it didn't work for me. At it's worst, it felt like a DeLillo/Gaitskill mashup and I disliked the plotline about Jelly.

On the other hand, I admire Spiotta's style and her sense of place. Having spent time in upstate NY myself, I really enjoyed the sections of the novel that took place in Gloversville.

I do get what she was going for - using the techniques of one medium in another that takes as it's subject, the first medium, but it's just didn't come together in a way that satisfied. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
As others have noted, Dana Spiotta's Innocents and Others is torpedoed by its cover copy, which promises a "collision" between the lives of filmmakers Meadow and Carrie and that of Jelly, who is described as "older, erotic, and mysterious," the purveyor of seductive phone - well, not sex exactly, but intimacy. It was, in fact, this very promise of drama tinged with immorality that led me to request an ARC from the publisher. What I got instead was a plodding exposé of each woman's life, which barely intersects with the others, much less revealing the others in a new light. That Spiotta chose to give the starring role in her narrative to shallow, self-obsessed, privileged Meadow - the poorest choice from an already sparsely populated pool - secured Innocents and Others's place among the worst books I have read this year.

This is not to say that Spiotta can't write; she can, and does, beautifully on occasion:

"A lie of invention, a lie about yourself, should not be called a lie. It needs a different word. It is maybe a fabule, a kind of wish-story, something almost true, a mist of the possible where nothing was yet there. With elements both stolen and invented—which is to say, invented. And it has to feel more dream than lie as you speak it."

This theme of self-invention, the mutability of identity, is at the heart of this book, and what a timely theme it is. Too bad that the lies Meadow, Carrie, and Jelly tell about themselves are no more interesting than their realities.

I received a free copy of Innocents and Others from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ( )
1 vote BrandieC | Jun 4, 2016 |
Is it reductionist to say Spiotta’s work is a response to so much media being readily available to creative types for the first time in history? Think of the role of internet in Eat the Document. Yeah, that’s reductionist. Innocents and Others is a book about friendships, and how we build ourselves with images we’ve consumed. There is a lot here about female beauty standards that we’ve read before but not with such delicacy. I’m a cis hetero male so I’ll let others comment more about that. What I’m not hearing people say is that this is a novel about haves and have-nots. There is a spectrum of desire and fulfillment in this book. It was wonderful. I didn’t get it at first. Another caveat is that this book is so packed with film buff minutiae that it might lack context to readers that are not film buffs. Luckily, we live in an age when so much media readily at our... If you’re lucky enough to be one of the haves. Or perhaps, like Dylan, you threw it all away. ( )
  librarianbryan | May 15, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 150112272X, Hardcover)

From “a major, unnervingly intelligent writer” (Joy Williams)…“rich, funny, learned, and tonally fresh” (Jeffrey Eugenides), comes a novel about aspiration, film, work, and love.

Dana Spiotta’s new novel is about two women, best friends, who grow up in LA in the 80s and become filmmakers. Meadow and Carrie have everything in common—except their views on sex, power, movie-making, and morality. Their lives collide with Jelly, a loner whose most intimate experience is on the phone. Jelly is older, erotic, and mysterious. She cold calls powerful men and seduces them not through sex but through listening. She invites them to reveal themselves, and they do.

Spiotta is “a wonderfully gifted writer with an uncanny feel for the absurdities and sadnesses of contemporary life, and an unerring ear for how people talk and try to cope today” (The New York Times). Innocents and Others is her greatest novel—wise, artful, and beautiful.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 04 Nov 2015 20:58:30 -0500)

"A ... novel set in Los Angeles and New York that focuses on three women--how they define themselves, how they create meaningful work, how they love"--

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