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28 May 1992
Outerbridge Reach 
by Robert Stone.
Deutsch, 409 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 223 98774 3
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... When Robert Stone’s best-known novel, Dog Soldiers, was published in 1974, there was a small but significant overlap of material with The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe’s souped-up, superheated journalistic account of the beginnings of the counterculture, published six years earlier. The coincidence of material was in many ways inevitable ...

Ceaseless Anythings

James Wood: Robert Stone

1 October 1998
Damascus Gate 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 500 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 37058 8
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... American realism, once a belief, is now an idle liberty. Writers such as Robert Stone, Joan Didion, John Irving and even Don DeLillo, are praised for their ‘realism’, for the solidity of their plots, the patience of their characterisation, the capillary spread of their social portraits, the leverage of their political insight ...

Unaccommodated Man

Christopher Tayler: Adventures with Robert Stone

18 March 2004
Bay of Souls 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 250 pp., £16.99, February 2004, 0 330 41894 7
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... Robert Stone was born in August 1937, nine months after Don DeLillo and three – we’re told – after Thomas Pynchon. Dog Soldiers, his second novel, made his name in the mid-1970s, and since then he has stubbornly held his ground on the upper slopes of American literary life. Fellowships, prizes, grants and commissions have rarely been in short supply, and his later books – from A Flag for Sunrise to Damascus Gate – have been much admired ...


Graham Hough

3 December 1981
Ah, but your land is beautiful 
by Alan Paton.
Cape, 270 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 02 241981 0
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A Flag for Sunrise 
by Robert Stone.
Secker, 402 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 9780436496813
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Something Else 
by Virginia Fassnidge.
Constable, 152 pp., £5.95, October 1981, 0 09 464340 7
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The Air We Breathe 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Harvester, 114 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 7108 0056 8
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... stands aside from the general course of imaginative fiction. It is probably meant to do so. Robert Stone is also engaged with political disaster. His earlier novel Dog Soldiers was about the legacy of corruption left to America by the Vietnam War. In A Flag for Sunrise the theme is American incursion into the Third World. The scene is the small ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self

5 February 2004
Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... by established names, among them Frank Conroy, Stuart Dybeck, Richard Ford, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Stone and Amy Tan. Those writers known partly for formal experimentation whose work Wolff did include (among them Lorrie Moore, Denis Johnson and Mary Robison) did not, in the stories Wolff selected, engage with the question of how a story convinces ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White

19 July 2012
Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... behind Mallarmé’s obfuscations and Proust’s longueurs to join dependable storytellers like Robert Stone and Joyce Carol Oates. He got mugged by realism. He realised that Elizabeth Bowen is just as good as Virginia Woolf but without the ‘affected prose style’, and that the selling of high art is ‘just one more form of commercialism’. The ...

Two Poems

Robert Crawford

23 September 2010
... need you as midlife midwife, ministering angel, To birth my crisis. O She, O Isis, come O Rolling Stone, O Mick-chick, O stone-age Raquel, George Eliot-brained, late-teen Emanuelle, Let me embrace you, let me hide my light Under your bushel, come, O come Now to my achy-breaky heart, the one Still ...
22 March 2001
... pairliament, a birth in stane. And when we’re deid they gie us – stane, like this: a ‘simple stone’, whaur all Scotia ‘Should pour her sorrows o’er her poet’s dust’. Whit’s wrang wi dust? I’ve no min’ here to flyte wi Burns, but staunin unner the Calton Hill, Embro’s ‘disgrace’; amang these smeekit monuments, I’m thinking ...
25 April 1991
... Through Alexandria to Loch Lomond past the indigenous Argyll Motors Factory with its built-to-last Stone car over the door. People call you odd, Determined, unchaperoned, ‘fast’. Your wheels cover Scotland, familiar and intimate, Tin-Lizzying Right up Ben Nevis, mass-produced, Laughing with the dash of the woman driver’s TS1, first car in Dundee. Your ...
6 August 1992
Life with a Star 
by Jiri Weil, translated by Rita Klimova and Roslyn Schloss.
Flamingo, 247 pp., £4.99, February 1991, 0 00 654329 4
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Mendelssohn is on the Roof 
by Jiri Weil, translated by Marie Winn.
HarperCollins, 228 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 00 223863 2
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... at the Prague Jewish cemetery: “ ‘What’s left for us?” I asked. “Only time,” said Robert. “But there’s not much of it.” ’ Indiscriminate murder of civilian populations is, alas, at least as old as recorded history. What differentiates the modern German version, as has often been observed, is its implementation through industrial ...

Genderbait for the Nerds

Christopher Tayler: William Gibson

22 May 2003
Pattern Recognition 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 356 pp., £16.99, April 2003, 0 670 87559 7
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... clone of an old-school Casio G-Shock’ – and sees that it’s time for her meeting with Bernard Stonestreet, an ad exec in ‘a Paul Smith suit, more specifically the 118 jacket and the 11T trouser’. Cayce, by contrast, wears a ‘museum-grade replica of a US MA-1 flying jacket . . . created by Japanese obsessives’. Afterwards there’s lunch, ‘the ...


Michael André Bernstein: Norman Rush

22 January 2004
by Norman Rush.
Cape, 715 pp., £18.99, July 2003, 0 224 03709 9
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... heartland of the global American imperium. Except for Jane and Paul Bowles in Morocco, only Robert Stone and Joan Didion suggest themselves, and neither of them is associated closely with any one setting. On the whole, American writers seem convinced that the vital features of their society are most clearly discernible at its centre, even though it ...

Not everybody cries

Christopher Tayler: Tash Aw

29 August 2013
Five Star Billionaire 
by Tash Aw.
Fourth Estate, 437 pp., £18.99, February 2013, 978 0 00 749415 6
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... it’s more controlled, with less cartoonish focal characters and, early on, a good line in Robert Stone-like unease. The main action takes place in Indonesia during Sukarno’s confrontation with Malaysia, and again there’s the germ of an allegory: at the heart of the plot are two orphaned boys who’ve been separated and brought up in the ...

‘Double y’im dees’

Christopher Tayler: Ben Fountain

2 August 2012
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk 
by Ben Fountain.
Canongate, 307 pp., £16.99, July 2012, 978 0 85786 438 3
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... of Fountain’s long apprenticeship is that his 1970s-vintage literary models – among them Robert Stone, Joan Didion and Norman Mailer in Vietnam-era reportage mode – turned out to be pretty useful for a writer hitting his stride at the start of the 21st century. His main adjustments concern mood. For the pill-popping nerviness of Didion and ...

Three Poems

Robert Crawford

24 June 2004
... down Maes Howe’s Five-thousand-year-old chute, Walked unbowed down its entrance passage Whose stone slabs weigh forty-five cars. Nine chased Nine with dog-track speed Round Orphir’s circular kirk, Dropped down rung after midnight rung Metres into Wideford Hill. Nine and Seven bounced and drummed On the capstone over ...

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