Litkicks Message Board Archive

Allez: Taking Robert Stone as an example,

Posted to WritersAndGenres

I learned from interviews that his books "A Flag for Sunrise" ( another of those deliciously-themed books about the US understanding very little of the third world, this time Latin America . . .)and "Dog Soldiers" were, in fact, "an inch from the real" in most of their narrative content.

But I also learned ( from a friend who was Stone's student at U. Cal. Irvine) that, for Stone, the only thing that mattered was the sense the reader had of the authentic, and that Stone would deliberately alter historical events if they fitted better into the design of his books.

Thomas Pynchon in "Gravity's Rainbow" is a good example of this sensibility. If you own the user's guide to "GR", (as I do) then you learn from the annotations to the novel in this reference guide that, as is the case with "The Tin Drum" by Gunter Grass, the war is out in the open, so to speak, but feelings about the war are the real subject(s).

Thus Pynchon follows the bar adventures and quirky proclivities of characters who might be misfits anywhere. Grass surrealistically writes of dwarves and real scoutmasters who go ice swimming with their nubile young charges.

And the war swirls around these writers' characters, or comes screaming in from the sky. But the real stories are elsewhere, less outwardly accessible and therefore less "historical."

On a canvas as large as "The Tin Drum" or "Gravity's Rainbow", an artist can put a lot of detail into dim little corners that isn't noticed at first glance, once the convincing overall effect is achieved.

Does any of the tangential ramble I just wrote have anything to do with your point, my friend?

I hope the factory world hasn't "surrealed" you too much this Monday morning.

Your literary co-conspirator