Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone

I always wrote Stone off as a post-Hemingway tough guy writer until this book (which on some levels he is), and really wish someone had slapped me and forced one of his books into my hand. He uses the stark storytelling of Hemingway with the dark forebodings of Conrad and the apocalyptic humor of Nathaniel West. This novel travels through the same anxieties of Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (with a bag of heroin replacing phallic rocket technology) but with more naturalistic prose, on the edge borderline demented characters in a society seemingly on the edge of exploding into total savagery (whether in Vietnam or California). Lots of allusions to government corruption and the Manson family, this is the novel of the dark heart of early 70’s America, but its concerns seem if not more so, at least as pressing in our new merciless age.

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