From Dana Spiotta, the author of Eat the Document and Stone Arabia, “A brilliant novel…about female friendship, the limits of love and work, and costs of claiming your right to celebrate your triumphs and own your mistakes” (Elle).
Innocents and Others is about two women 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 friendship is complicated, but their devotion to each other trumps their wildly different approaches to film and to life. Meadow was always the more idealistic and brainy of the two; Carrie was more pragmatic. Into their lives comes Jelly, a master of seduction who calls powerful men and seduces them not with sex, but by being a superior listener. All of these women grapple with the question of how to be good: a good lover, a good friend, a good mother, a good artist.
A startlingly acute observer of the way we live now, Dana Spiotta “has created a new kind of great American novel” (The New York Times Magazine). “Impossible to put down” (Marie Claire), Innocents and Others is “a sexy, painfully insightful, and strangely redemptive novel about the ways we misread one another—with an ending that comes at you like a truck around a blind curve and stays with you for much, much longer” (Esquire).
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This inventive and utterly compelling novel tracks the stories of three women: filmmakers Meadow and Carrie (who meet in their teens at an artsy Los Angeles high school) and Jelly, a lonely and neurotic phone “phreaker” who seduces high-powered men with her mellifluous voice and talent for listening. We couldn’t put down Innocents and Others. Weaving together fictional film scripts and essays with cinematic scenes and crackling dialogue, author Dana Spiotta injects her examination of women’s relationships and the brutal compromises of aging with breathless suspense and astonishing insights.
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.
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Innocents and Others
I enjoyed a look at the film world and of course the characters' developments were profound and not a forgone conclusion; however, my favorite thing about this book is how it inspired me to look inward and appreciate how a person can change--or not. Loved it.