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Award-winning novelist Robert Stone is known for his dark humor and social commentary, having penned works like Dog Soldiers and Children of Light.
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Robert Stone, born on August 21, 1937, in Brooklyn, New York, became a writer who earned acclaim for his 1967 debut novel, A Hall of Mirrors. He won the National Book Award for his next work, Dog Soldiers, set in Vietnam, and has written several other books over the decades, including short-story collections. He’s also a screenwriter and has penned the memoir Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties.
"The best thing a critic can do is to lead a reader to discover something about the business of writing he or she may not have thought of before. The vocabulary of dismissal is something we've seen too many times. We don't need another exercise in that."
"What you're trying to do when you write is to crowd the reader out of his own space and occupy it with yours, in a good cause. You're trying to take over his sensibility and deliver an experience that moves from mere information."
"When I was seven or eight, I'd walk through Central Park like Sam Spade, describing aloud what I was doing, becoming both the actor and the writer setting him into the scene. That was where I developed an inner ear."
"I suppose the '60s seemed like a big revolution, but to me it always felt a small circle of friends. And by the time of the Summer of Love, in the late '60s, it was over. That was the end of it. Every kid who was on the loose turned up, and it was no longer our thing. It was a fashion."
"My upbringing was in a working-class context, and being a writer wasn't something that you did, because it was insubstantial and not altogether respectable."
"When I was young, I spent three years in a orphanage because my mother was schizoid. As I grew up, I began to see the institutional personality, people right around me who were going that way, affectless sociopaths."
"There is a certain reverence for the sociopath as a major cultural type in American society, along with the frontiersman, the puritan and the outlaw. I was trying to recognize that very fact: the importance of the rootless, emotionally crippled individual in American life."
Robert Anthony Stone was born on August 21, 1937, in Brooklyn, New York. His father left when he was a child, and Stone was raised by his mother, who suffered from schizophrenia and struggled to make ends meet after she lost her job as a teacher. With his mother often hospitalized, Stone spent three years in an orphanage.
He later attended, and won writing prizes at, Archbishop Molloy High School. He left without graduating, though as an adult he eventually credited the institution for teaching him the nuts and bolts of reading and writing.
Stone served in the Navy during the mid-1950s, and by the end of the decade attended New York University for a year while working at the Daily News. In 1959 he wed Janice Burr; the couple went on to have two children.
Stone worked a variety of jobs in New Orleans for a time, and eventually lived in California, where he attended Stanford University and joined in the counterculture, experimenting with psychedelic drugs and taking part in the famous Merry Pranksters bus ride.
Inspired after rereading F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Stone says it took around six years to complete his first book, A Hall of Mirrors (1967). The novel, which features a musician teaming with a destructive radio evangelist, won the William Faulkner Foundation Award. Stone also created a screen adaptation of the work, which became the 1970 film WUSA, starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Anthony Perkins.
Stone's second novel, Dog Soldiers (1974), earned the National Book Award and was inspired by the author's own travels to Vietnam, where he witnessed the grimness of the region's drug trade. Stone again worked on a screenplay for a film version of his novel—in this case 1978's Who'll Stop the Rain?, starring Nick Nolte.
Stone continued his literary output with the novels A Flag for Sunrise (1981), about a fictitious Central American country in turmoil, and Children of Light (1986), which takes on Hollywood disillusionment. Stone also showcased his thespian chops, acting in a California production of King Lear in 1982.
Having earned a reputation for being concerned with the human condition, Stone released the 1992 novel Outerbridge Reach, about a company spokesperson who undertakes a solo sailboat race. This was followed by the story collection Bear and His Daughter (1997).
Stone continued producing long-form literary works into the new millennium with 1998's Jerusalem-based Damascus Gate and 2003's Bay of Souls, which takes place in the Caribbean.
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