The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, Anna North's (America Pacifica) second novel, has the feel of a documentary transcript. The title character comes across as subject more than protagonist, rendered through the perspectives of others and the work she did with them.

Sophie Stark spent her life struggling for words until the day she picked up a video camera and discovered she expressed herself more easily through images. Her first film, a quirky documentary about a player on her college's basketball team, opens the door to a filmmaking fellowship in New York City. She finds new stories there--revealed from the stage at a storytelling showcase in Brooklyn and shared privately by a musician while they made a music video together--and the movies that are built on these stories begin to attract a following. Collaborative and romantic partnerships blur behind the scenes, giving Stark's work a particular sense of intimacy and a rough-edged beauty that proves difficult to re-create on a larger, less personal scale.

As the novel switches among several narrators, Stark emerges from the recollections of her collaborators: Allison, the Brooklyn storyteller who becomes her girlfriend; Jacob, the musician and her eventual husband; Daniel, the college basketball player from her documentary; and Robbie, her brother, whose video camera started everything. As they relate their experiences with her, each of these characters reveals parts of their own stories that Stark's films never told. The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is a fascinating and provocative portrait of a woman revealed through the stories of others, and who wanted it that way. --Florinda Pendley Vasquez, blogger at The 3 R's Blog: Reading. 'Riting, and Randomness

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