Dana Spiotta is the author of Lightning Field, a New York Times Notable Book, and Eat the Document, a finalist for the National Book Award.
Carolyn Kellogg of the Jacket Copy blog talked to Spiotta about her new novel Stone Arabia. Part of their dialogue:
Jacket Copy: When you were working on "Stone Arabia," did you ever feel like the cultural movement was going too fast for you to capture it within the boundaries of a novel?--Marshal Zeringue
Dana Spiotta: Because I had the idea that it would be 2004, that was my self-imposed boundary. So I don't have Facebook, but there's still MySpace. Wikipedia's there, but not YouTube. I like having that, I like getting the details right. Writing "Eat the Document," I liked having the challenge of writing about 1972. That's fun for me.
JC: When you talked to The Believer about "Eat the Document," you said you liked to do immersive research. What could you research for the parts of "Stone Arabia" set in 2004?
DS: I mostly did a lot of research on different kinds of people who do art -- extended, elaborate, private art -- for themselves. I was thinking about outsider artists, about various musicians who do this. Someone like Ray Johnson, who staged his own suicide. People who make their own home recordings, pre-1990, like R. Stevie Moore from New Jersey, Robert Pollard, people who have that homemade feel. Combining all those, knowing those were all the elements I wanted to put together. And my stepfather is the inspiration for Nik Worth.
JC: I saw that at the back of the book, and I found his MySpace page, but I wasn't sure if I believed it.
DS: It's true! What's funny is it seemed appropriate to me that he was...[read on]