I reallllllllly wanted to love this book. I would have settled for liking or admiring this book a lot. In real life, I just… don’t get it. This is the kind of book that, after having read so many rapturous reviews about, make me feel stupid for not understanding it. I found one review on Goodreads, nestled well into the second or third page of reviews that summed up my experience: “Life is too short” and I heartily agree. Life is too short to read things that don’t make you happy, or make you think, or feel, or anything. And all I felt while reading Innocents and Others was frustrated.
Yes, Dana Spiotta is a beautiful writer. The problem is not the writing, the problem is the flow, or the structure, or the fact that it was all over the place with no discernable narrative or geez, I have no idea what the problem was but there was a problem. It is about two friends, Meadow and Carrie, who grew up in Southern California in the 1980’s (I did too, I should relate to this immediately and I yet I do not) and both become filmmakers, though very different kinds of filmmakers. Meadow works in experimental documentaries and Carrie writes and directs large studio films. Their paths cross with a third woman, Jelly, a sex worker who cold calls powerful men and ‘seduces them through listening’. (No, really) Eventually these stories come together when Meadow decides to make a film about Jelly.
I wanted to get it, but Spiotta did nothing to help me. The stories are barely interconnected, the paragraphs go on for days and I just got frustrated all around. Nothing ever came together to interest me enough to want to keep reading. I finished it, but only because I assumed it would get much better (a la The Goldfinch), but sadly it did not. I want someone who is much smarter than me to read it and explain it to me. Any takers?
Innocents and Others – Grade C-