30 Books in 30 Days: 8.21.11

Eat the Document by Dana Spiotta

This novel has some similarities to A Person of Interest, covered in my previous post. Both novels depict the intersection between private life and systems of surveillance in our society. Novels that portray characters who have completely remade their identities, running from past lives particularly intrigue me.  Eat the Document‘s main character is a woman who has managed to start a new life, completely remaking her identity.  She has had to do so because of her involvement in revolutionary activities during the 1970s.  Yet, memories as well as cultural artifacts from her past life serve to penetrate the present time, leaving chinks in the smooth surface she is trying to maintain.  The brilliance with which Spiotta uses music as a key to this past life is a tribute to Spiotta’s knowledge about music as well as her ability to evoke  a time period’s spirit through writing about its music.  Perhaps because of the way my own father has made the 60s as a time period very much alive to me, I enjoy the way in which Spiotta manages to show the ways in which our seemingly futuristic present time has grown out of that past.

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