Author Robert Stone Reveals Havana’s Impact on his Writing

Author Robert Stone Reveals Havana’s Impact on his Writing

According to the New York State Writers Institute, Robert Stone’s novels often feature alienated protagonists who struggle to survive in a brutal world of violence, drugs, and alcohol.

A Hall of Mirrors (1967), Stone’s first novel, won the William Faulkner Award for best first novel and was also produced by Paramount as the movie WUSA in 1970. His second novel, Dog Soldiers (1974), won the National Book Award and was adapted into the film Who’ll Stop the Rain in 1978.

Author Robert Stone

Robert Stone. Image by Larry D. Moore

Stone’s other works include the novels A Flag for Sunrise (1981), which received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Children of Light (1986), and Outerbridge Reach (1992). He also edited the anthology The Best American Short Stories: 1992.

Stone received Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the five-year Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award. He taught in the creative writing program at Yale University.

Writing for Harpers, Stone recalls the profound impact his visit to Cuba had on his writing career.  Stone recalls,”Havana was my first liberty port, my first foreign city. It was 1955 and I was 17, a radio operator with an amphibious assault force in the U.S. Navy.” His article, “Havana Then and Now: Revisiting a City Once Again in History’s Straits” was published in Harper’s March 1992 issue.

Rejecting their roles as “boozing, wenching buccaneers,” Stone and a friend set out to behave like “proper expatriates.” They walked the city, watched the people, heard the music of conga bands and African flutes. “At the time,” recalled Stone, “I was struck less by the frivolity of Havana than by its unashamed seriousness …. All this Spanish tragedy, leavened with Creole sensuality, made Havana irresistible. Whether or not I got it right, I have used the film of its memory ever since in turning real cities into imaginary ones.”

I was struck less by the frivolity of Havana than by its unashamed seriousness …. All this Spanish tragedy, leavened with Creole sensuality, made Havana irresistible. Whether or not I got it right, I have used the film of its memory ever since in turning real cities into imaginary ones. – Robert Stone

Ernest Hemingway and Stone share more than an affinity for Cuba.  According to Stone, “[I wanted] to be where the world was happening. When I was about the right age, Hemingway was God. If you could have Hemingway’s life, you would trade your own in a minute. My God! Drink and women and Africa. Hemingway was it for my generation. He had his faults and his indulgences, but by God the man could write. At his best there is hardly anyone better, unless it is Fitzgerald.”

Author Robert Stone Reveals Havana’s Impact on his Writing was last modified: January 2nd, 2016 by Simons Chase

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