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Stone (born August 21, 1937) is a critically well regarded American novelist, whose work is typically characterized by psychological complexity, political concerns, and dark humor.
Stone was born in Brooklyn, New York. Until the age of six he was raised by his mother, who suffered from schizophrenia; after she was institutionalized, he spent several years in a Catholic orphanage. In his short story "Absence of Mercy," which Stone has said is autobiographical, the orphanage into which the protagonist Mackay is placed at age five is described as having had "the social dynamic of a coral reef."
He dropped out of high school in 1954 and joined the Navy for four years, where he worked as a journalist. In the early 1960s, he briefly attended New York University; worked as a copyboy at the New York Daily News; married and moved to New Orleans; attended the Wallace Stegner workshop at Stanford University, where he began writing a novel. Although Stone met the influential Beat Generation writer Ken Kesey and other Merry Pranksters, he was not a passenger on the famous 1964 bus trip to New York, contrary to some media reports. Stone, living in New York at the time, met the bus on its arrival and accompanied Kesey to an “after-bus party”, whose attendees included a dyspeptic Jack Kerouac.
In 1967 Stone published his first novel, A Hall of Mirrors, which won a William Faulkner Foundation award for best first novel. Set in New Orleans in 1962 and based partly on actual events, the novel depicted a political scene dominated by right-wing racism, but its style was more reminiscent of Beat writers than of earlier social realists: alternating between naturalism and stream of consciousness, with a large cast of often psychologically unstable characters, it set the template for much of Stone's later writing. It was adapted into the 1970 film WUSA. The novel's success led to a Guggenheim Fellowship and began Stone's career as a professional writer and teacher.
His second novel, Dog Soldiers (1974), was a thriller of sorts about a journalist smuggling heroin from Vietnam (where Stone had briefly travelled as a war correspondent in 1971). It won the 1975 National Book Award, and was also adapted into a film, Who'll Stop the Rain.
A Flag for Sunrise (1977) made Stone's left-wing politics even more explicit than in his earlier work, portraying a fictional Central American country in which U.S.-backed forces commit atrocities to suppress a Marxist revolution; it won a PEN/Faulkner Award. His next two novels focused on smaller-scale conflicts: the psychotic breakdown of a movie actress in Children of Light (Stone's least critically successful novel), and a circumnavigation race in Outerbridge Reach (based loosely on the story of Donald Crowhurst). He returned to current events with Damascus Gate (1998), about a man with messianic delusions caught up in a terrorist plot in Jerusalem.
Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties (2007) is Stone's recent memoir discussing his experiences in the Sixties "counterculture".
Stone currently lives in New York with his wife. He has two children. bob stone and talizman