Robert Stone's 'Damascus Gate.'

By Kaplan, Morton | The World and I, September 1998 | Go to article overview

Robert Stone's 'Damascus Gate.'


Kaplan, Morton, The World and I


The New York harbor tugboats provided employment for the Brooklyn family of Scottish Presbyterians and Irish Catholics into which Robert Stone was born in 1937. The future novelist, "always kind of in love with language," attended Catholic schools and began to write early on. Before graduation from high school, Stone enlisted in the Navy, where he continued writing, reporting on his travels. After the Navy, Stone lived in New York City and New Orleans; he married Janice Burr in 1959.

A Stegner fellowship to the writing program at Stanford University in 1962 brought Stone into a group of writers that included Ken Kesey, Larry McMurtry, Ernest Gaines, Wendell Berry, Tom McGuane, and Peter Beagle. Stone became one of Kesey's Merry Pranksters and participated in the 1964 bus trip immortalized in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968). Speaking of those days some twenty years later, Stone told an interviewer, "I discovered that my way of seeing the world was always going to be religious--not intellectual or political--viewing everything as a mystic process."

Published in 1967, Stone's first novel, Hall of Mirrors, won the Faulkner Award and two years later was produced as the movie WUSA (starring Paul Newman). Dog Soldiers won the 1974 National Book Award and was made into the 1978 film Who'll Stop the Rain (starring Nick Nolte and Tuesday Weld).

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