Monday, November 18, 2013

Robert Stone

Robert Stone's novels include Dog Soldiers, which won the National Book Award, and the modern classics Outerbridge Reach and Damascus Gate. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA, Stone is considered one of America’s greatest living writers.

About his new novel, Death of the Black-Haired Girl, from the publisher:

In an elite college in a once-decaying New England city, Steven Brookman has come to a decision. A brilliant but careless professor, he has determined that for the sake of his marriage, and his soul, he must extract himself from his relationship with Maud Stack, his electrifying student, whose papers are always late and too long yet always incandescent. But Maud is a young woman whose passions are not easily contained or curtailed, and their union will quickly yield tragic and far-reaching consequences.... The stakes of Brookman and Maud’s relationship prove higher than either one could have anticipated, pitting individuals against one another and against the institutions meant to protect them.
From Stone's Q & A with David Samuels for The Daily Beast:
DS: You have an obvious interest in myth, and you like bringing it down to human scale. In your new book, which is still settling in my head, I felt, this is a story about the sacrifice of a child. The story in the bible about the sacrifice of a child is when Abraham goes to sacrifice his son, which is one of those terrible biblical moments that I always come back to again and again without knowing exactly how I am supposed to feel about it. This crazed person actually goes to do this crazy thing. And then the ram is caught by its horns in the bush and is sacrificed instead. You can turn it over 17 times in your head and not really get a clear bead on what all that craziness means. So I was wondering if that was at all what was in your head.

RS: Oh it was, absolutely. Absolutely. The sort of priest who was either there or not there, who calls himself the mourner, and the idea of people wanting their suffering to mean something.

DS: The black-haired girl, born of a working class family in New York, has been offered up to the gods of Yale, and is then sacrificed on that altar. The things that happen to her are par for the course in elite American higher education. And then you have her father, the ex-NYPD cop, who has made this offering and is in pain, even though this was the sacrifice that motivated his entire life.

RS: He’d been making the sacrifice his whole life, and then he actually got called on it. This is in a way a religious tragedy, and so in large part this is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue