Saturday, August 16, 1997

Q&A Robert Stone: Drugs, Ocean, Vietnam


First appeared in the Boston Book Review.
(Date approximate).

 "Oh, Frank, you lamb," she said, "what did your poor mama tell you? Did she say that a world with God was easier than one without him?"
 She gave Father Hooke a last friendly pat and turned to Camille. "Because that would be mistaken, wouldn't it, Camille?"
    "Miserere" ("Bear and His Daughter")

HB: Reading you brought to mind Herman Melville's lines: "Man's insanity is heaven's sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought."

RS: That's a tremendously bitter quote. Some of my characters climb all the way to insanity. Most never really lose reason -- in a way it's part of the torture that they endure.

All the people I write about think they have some glimpse of the transcendent but can't quite keep it focus, can't quite catch hold of it. It drives them mad -- and to alcohol and drugs. As is notorious, my people are always turning on and getting loaded. My contribution to the war on drugs was to have people take it easy in "Outerbridge Reach." But it's true; my people are druggy, and drink a lot. It's a metaphor for that transcendent level of things that we have a hunger for, a necessity for, that we can't really get hold of.