Lightning Field: A Novel
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Lightning Field: A Novel

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  198 ratings  ·  29 reviews
The Los Angeles Dana Spiotta evokes in her bold and strangely lyrical first novel is a land of Spirit Gyms and Miracle Miles, a great centerless place where chains of reference get lost, or finally don't matter.
Mina lives with her screenwriter husband and works at her best friend Lorene's highly successful concept restaurants, which exploit the often unconscious desires...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published January 30th 2002 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2001)
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If a shotgun wielding redhead jammed a double barrel between my lips, told me to reach my hands toward the stars, spit a glob of chewing tobacco six inches from my left foot, and then asked me this dreaded question: What is the theme of LIGHTNING FIELD? I’d tell her I have no idea, shut my eyes tight, and hope her nicotine-induced haze didn’t include a trigger pull, as she offered up a bit of mercy on my soul.

What I can tell you, though, is infidelity and the fragility of the human spirit run ra...more
Stolen from the very vocal chords of Don DeLillo. That's the strongest impression I get, and it shouldn't surprise that DeLillo glowingly praised this debut novel. The vocal calque isn't a negative--entirely. But it's interesting reading this compared to Spiotta's most recent work "Stone Arabia" where the voice and narrative feels and sounds so wholly uninfluenced. It's unique to the characters, and, well more honest.

But that's what this book is really about. Dishonesty and deception and appea...more
Spiotta gets constant comparisons to Delillo and Didion and these aren't imprecise, she offers the almost clinical dissection of the objects and anxieties that define our modern condition of the former and spare and stark style of the latter. Her first book features her at her murkiest, operating in a Bergmanesque fog of confused identity and enigmatic scenes, very detached and opaque most of the times and then almost humorous at others. It is cold book that offers up plenty of satire and surrea...more
Dana Spiotta is a fabulous writer -- totally unsentimental in her delivery, is a master at nonlinear narrative, and astute in her character's observations.
This book however -- just couldn't get into it. Spiotta seems fascinated with our generation's apathy and obsession with pop culture. She plays in to the hyper self-awarenessness of her two leads, Mina and Lorene: long wordy internal monologues about outward appearance, the cinematic nature of everything in LA, the secrets everyone inevitably...more
There's something very sad and grubby about this smartly observed, funny and dark novel. Mina, the novel's main character, and her old friend Lorene present 2 kinds of Los Angeles disaffection. Plain-looking Mina has too many men and too many secrets. For now, gorgeous Lorene has no man at all, but is instead in the thrall of an array of aesthetic obsessions. This might be the first novel I've read where one of the main characters has breast implants. It's also one of the only books I've read th...more
A very slick, polished book for a debut novel. The characters are all aloof and distant to me, but they were well developed. I like Spiotta's writing a lot, but I always feel like I'm on the outside of the scenes looking in through a window; I just don't ever develop any closeness to any of her characters.
This story takes place in Hollywood, and definitely feels L.A.-ish, from Spiotta's use of film as a metaphor and all the references to movies and actors. It follows the lives of three women, an...more
Mina walks in LA, including to work where she manages one of Lorene's high-end, high concept restaurants. Mina's brother Michael is Lorene's brilliant, self-abusive ex-lover. Mina's and Michael's father has escaped to a yurt in the Ojai Valley. Mina escapes into generic hotel rooms with one lover and is videotaped by another. Her husband is immersed in old movies and endless revisions of his screenplay. Lorene is not only devoted to her restaurants, but to a high concept gym, where she receives...more
John M.
Lightning Field…marvelous work. The sarcastic commentary about the frivolous aspects of people’s lives, layered with an undercurrent of such serious introspection. Mina’s raw sensuousness and unfathomable neediness combined to make her such an appealing character. The relationships interweaving through all the characters revealed such an intriguing network of the flaws and imperfections that make all of us so interesting.

Ms. Spiotta's writing sucked me in to the narrative. Her use of language is...more
Like all of Dana Spiotta's books, this novel has a tart, dry tone, which I quite like. The ending wasn't as strong a resolution as the characters deserved, but I think that's a common failing of first novels. The characters are really great, especially Mina; she really seems like a person when in a lesser writer's hands I think she would just be a collection of quirks. Spiotta is sensitive here to the disturbing lack of privacy and autonomy inherent to a more interconnected and relentlessly exam...more
I stumbled across Dana Spiotta's "Eat The Document" a month or so ago at a used bookstore on the $2 table and decided to give it a try. I enjoyed that book so much, I picked up her first book, "Lightning Field" at the library quickly after. I read it briskly, but not without feeling a bit empty. I would summarize this book as a book of "space" -- the need for space from our self, our work, our surroundings, our significant others, etc...really boiling down to the articulation (or not) of our unc...more
Because I am a big fan of Spiotta's Eat the Document (highly recommended), I decided to read her first novel, Lightning Field. Spiotta's sort of "hipster narrative" was a little difficult to accept at first (it actually took me two times to get through this book) but once you get into the flow of it, it really works. The book very nicely captures the atmosphere of life in Los Angeles (although, in this case, it's not one that makes you want to live there)...
At first, I thought: yuck, these characters are shallow, vain and stupid. But I kept reading, because it was easy enough to skate through a few pages at bedtime. Suddenly, about 1/3 of the way in, I was more interested. Pretty soon, I could not put it down.

Somehow the main character became more compelling, without necessarily undergoing any transformation. At the end I thought, "how did she do that?"

I'm adding Spiotta to my list of authors to read.
Aug 01, 2007 Tye rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Angelinos
Interesting book. She gets away with a lot of not having many of the sections have much immediate effect on any of the others (i.e. nothing "happening") and I was sold by the part early on when the main character buys makeup and then realizes she doesn't want any of it only after she gets out on the street and looks in the bag. I hope this book is the new, quieter way in less conventional "popular" fiction. It's a pretty good step, at least.
Spiotta's good, but this was no Eat the Document, which I loved. A story of three (though one gets less treatment) women in contemporary LA. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, in part because the two primary women are a little more aggressive (with men, with work) than a lot of women in books, but I think I'll end up forgetting the book. It feels fleeting.
Paige Newman
It's weird to read someone's first novel after reading the rest of her books. This novel is kind of a mess. The structure is a bit all over the place. The two main characters have almost identical voices so that they blend too much. But, there is still some really good writing here. I love how far she's come since writing this book, but this isn't her best.
nauseatingly self-involved. the prose is good, but the unlikeable characters sleeping around a plotless novel? the best prose in the world can't save a sinking ship. the most compelling relationship is the one between mina and michael, and all of it happens in the past.

so disappointed. the structure is god awful.
Breeann Kirby
Good read but it makes me wonder when our fiction became so rife with characters who over-analyze and over-qualify everything they do. When did we become that way? What about just living life? I do like that Lorene tries to an extent enjoy life for what it is when she is in New Orleans.
Matt Walker
I thought to myself: this is like a mix between Didion and DeLillo. Then I saw the blurb inside the front cover from People magazine that said it was like a mix between Didion and DeLillo. Conclusion: I could write for People magazine.
Klaudyna Z.
This book was terrible. I never really knew what was happening. It was hard to keep track because the author was constantly skipping around. As far as I am concerned, there was no point to the plot. Would not recommend.
A chilly, fascinating novel about contemporary SoCal culture as a matrix for female friendship, sexual relationships, success (or lack thereof). The writing rings true, if in (to me) disaffected tones.
Margarita Nafpaktitis
She's got a thing about brothers. Protagonists of both Lightning Field and Stone Arabia worship their brothers who are both psychologically problematic.
Such a disappointment after liking Eat the Document. I think it was trying to satarize the characters for being shallow, but it came off as just a shallow book instead.
I like the writing, but couldn't keep up with the multiple POVs because of their listless, almost purposeless tone. Got lost and couldn't finish...
well written and develops some interesting themes, but i just can't get over the fact that i hated all the characters.
Timothy P. Jones
Some very interesting ideas. Her next book is much better.
amazing grace swings low over beautiful la lives
treva mccroskey
i barely remember this book.
So LA. Good characters.
This was a terrible book. I can't believe someone published this.
Matt marked it as to-read
Sep 20, 2014
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Scribner published Dana Spiotta’s first novel, Lightning Field, in 2001. The New York Times called it “the debut of 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.” It was a New York Times Notable Book of the year, and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the West.

Her second novel, E...more
More about Dana Spiotta...
Stone Arabia Eat the Document Stone Arabia. Dana Spiotta L.A Girl Total Loss Farm: A Year in the Life

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