Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Flag for Sunrise by Robert Stone

Second Stone I have read after Dog Soldiers; a darker but less cynical updating of Conrad’s Nostromo. It starts off fairly somber with a structure that reminds me of an Altman film; with the book switching between various characters having conversations that slowly are showing the canvas on which this book is drawn, all relating to the fictional Central American country of Tecan (and its neighbor Compostelan). Tecan resembles a disguised El Salvador or Guatemala but has elements of other moments in the troubled history of that region. At some point the conversation and events take a menacing tone that accelerates as the book becomes increasingly claustrophobic; at this point the book resembles Dog Soldier’s jittery energy. Great dialogue, detail, and lunatic characters (a speed freak on an existential journey, a whisky priest turned Gnostic prophet, sadistic policeman, revolutionary nun, a serial killer, and a very confused and lost Anthropologist); all add up to another great but disturbing and seven shades dark novel by Stone. The deranged finale on a boat is worth it.

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