Robert Stone, Chronicler of America’s Decline

Madison Smartt Bell at The Paris Review:

When Stone mustered out of the navy in the late fifties, the United States had perhaps reached its zenith in terms of economic success and dominance, political hegemony worldwide, and a vibrant and vigorous culture, ripe for exportation in multiple embodiments: from serious literature and high art to B movies, pop music, and Coca-Cola. It seemed a national moment free of self-doubt—although a considerable dysphoria would soon begin to express itself, as the social upheavals of the sixties began. Stone, who did not begin the world from a position of privilege, was quicker than most to see the shadows cast by the rising American star. In his work, he would repeatedly portray those bright aspirations set off by a surrounding darkness that was likely in the end to devour them.

more here.