EAT THE DOCUMENT

Dana Spiotta, whom Michiko Kakutani called “wonderfully observant and wonderfully gifted… with an uncanny feel for the absurdities and sadness of contemporary life” (The New York Times), has written a bold and moving novel about a fugitive radical from the 1970s who has lived in hiding for twenty-five years. Eat the Document is a hugely compelling story of activism, sacrifice, and the cost of living a secret.

In the heyday of the seventies underground, Bobby DeSoto and Mary Whittaker- passionate, idealistic, and in love – design a series of radical protests against the Vietnam War. When one action goes wrong, the course of their lives is forever changed. The two must erase their past, forge new identities, and never see one another again.

Now it is the 1990s. Mary lives in the suburbs with her fifteen-year-old son who spends hours immersed in the music of his mother’s generation. She has no idea where Bobby is, whether he is alive or dead.Shifting between the protests in the 1970s and the con sequences of those choices in the 1990s, Dana Spiotta deftly explores the connection between the two eras — their language, technology, music, and activism. Character-driven and brilliant, Eating the Document is an important and revelatory novel about the culture and consequence of rebellion, with particular resonance now.

PRAISE FOR EAT THE DOCUMENT

“Stunning . . . a glittering book that possesses the staccato ferocity of Joan Didion and the historical resonance and razzle-dazzle language of Don DeLillo. . . . Ms. Spiotta has a keen ear and even keener eye for the absurdities and disjunctions of American life, and this novel showcases those gifts in spades. . . . A symphonic portrait of three decades of American life.”
— Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“A terrific novel, which reads like a diary or a thriller. To Spiotta, words are controlled substances, and they make the text shimmer and vibrate.”
— Laurie Stone, Chicago Tribune

“Infused with subtle wit . . . singularly powerful and provocative. . . Spiotta has a wonderful ironic sensibility, juxtaposing ‘70s fervor with ‘90s expediency.”
— Caroline Leavitt, Boston Globe

“Spiotta’s writing brims with energy and intelligence.”
— Julia Scheeres, The New York Times Book Review

“Scintillating . . . Spiotta creates a mesmerizing portrait of radicalism’s decline.”
— John Freeman, The Seattle Times

“A powerful and disturbing book.”
— Joanne Collings, Bookpage

“The novel is a marvel of time travel.”
— Greil Marcus, ARTFORUM, “Best book of 2006”

Eat the Document brilliantly contrasts nascent and mature postmodernity through the lens of culture/counterculture. [Spiotta] is the literary heir of Don DeLillo.”
— Sarah Cypher, The Sunday Oregonian

“Spiotta calculates every word, character, and story line to illuminate the many faces of rebellion. Her book explores protests, bombings, underground filmmaking, and computer hacking, finding the personal and political ramifications of each.”
— Ross Simonini, Seattle Weekly

Eat the Document reveals its darkness and weirdness slowly. The corrosive nature of secrecy is there, as is the eerie ease of self-invention. Spiotta ultimately expresses a deep ambivalence to American culture and its affection for starting over, its ‘freedom from memory and history and accounting.”
— Anna Godberson, Esquire online

“A keenly observant and caustically funny tale . . . Spiotta succinctly and dramatically sizes up today’s chillingly cynical corporate kingdom.”
— Donna Seaman, Booklist

“A forthright and fascinating look at American counterculture.”
— Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Library Journal

“Gripping and compelling”
Pages magazine

“Spiotta’s crisscrossing of times and narrators creates a remarkable tension….In all of this, Spiotta manages to create a very natural story: It is believable, uneasy, mildly violent, lovesick and beautifully written.”
— Laura Leffler James, Cincinnati City Beat

“Eat the Document raises complicated issues with economical prose and significant insight, while penetrating its characters’ inner lives with empathy and understanding.” –Richard Gaughran, Daily-News Record
“Fiction as documentary, a coruscating, heartrending fable of struggle and loss.”
Kirkus

“Spiotta has written a very American novel about dissent, which becomes more valuable but also more dangerous and unwelcome in times of war, and the ethical lines one cannot cross without, as Caroline says, becoming the thing you wish to escape.”
— John Hammond, San Antonio Express-News

“Eat the Document is a good yarn. Spiotta is an irresistible satirist and taut storyteller.”
— Gina Mallet, The National Post (Canada)

“I like the way Dana Spiotta tinges reality with a dazzling now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t quality.  She uses her prose like a strobe light to give you enough of a freeze-frame on what’s happening to make you stop and wonder whether you might be implicated in this curious, perhaps dangerous dance.”
— Ann Beattie, author of Follies

“Fantastic . . . It blew me away.”
— Katha Pollitt, author of Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Times

“Such smart and delicious satire, yet so true and good to its characters too.  More, please.” 
— Stewart O’Nan, author of The Good Wife

“With only her second book Dana Spiotta has become, I think, a major American writer. The ironic connections she makes between the cultural divide of the early 70s and late 90s are chilling and delicious. This scary and often brilliant novel comes together beautifully in the end–there’s an intense satisfaction of seeing everything link up so movingly and with such warmth, and yet Spiotta is the only female writer I know whose prose reminds me of the cool ambient poetry and steely precision of Don DeLillo, and Eat the Document is as darkly exact and thrilling as the political novels of Joan Didion.”       
— Bret Easton Ellis, author of Lunar Park

“Like a set of Russian dolls nesting in each other other, Spiotta’s newest fiction finds the country in the family in a single human heart.  Eat the document — but read it first.”
— Mark Costello, author of Big If



”I like the way Dana Spiotta tinges reality with a dazzling now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t quality. She uses her prose like a strobe light to give you enough of a freeze-frame on what’s happening to make you stop and wonder whether you might be implicated in this curious, perhaps dangerous dance.” — Ann Beattie, author of Follies: New Stories

”Such smart and delicious satire, yet so true and good to its characters too.  More, please.” 
— Stewart O’Nan, author of The Good Wife