Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Robert Stone: Reviews and interview

Robert Stone, “Fun With Problems: Stories,” Hougton Mifflin Harcourt, 195 pages, $24.00


Though one of our prose masters, Robert Stone is less acknowledged than he ought to be. That may be because his characters repeatedly court or are caught up in dangerous situations, often pertaining to war, sexual obsession or drugs, which may lead him to be downgraded as a genre writer. The more likely reason for his relative obscurity is that in the United States today any but the most obviously Nobel Prize worthy writer — perhaps only Phillip Roth, since John Updike is dead — has a hard time getting full credit. Our taste tends away from real writing toward colostomy bags in literary form penned by the likes of Dan Brown.

But back to Stone. “Dog Soldiers” (1974) — well served by the film, “Who'll Stop the Rain”, starring Nick Nolte — and “Outerbridge Reach” (1992), are his best novels. His memoir, "Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties” (2006), wouldn’t be a bad place to start getting to know him either, since it contains many of his lifelong concerns, including Vietnam, drugs, physical and psychological edge play, ocean, irony, and varying shades of disappointment.