Remembering Robert Stone: Annie Dillard
The Perpetual King Lear
At Yale once, my academic husband asked Bob if he was going to graduation. He laughed and said, “What would I wear? They don’t make hoods for Navy GEDs.”
Being self-educated, he seemed to know everything. Onstage he once played Edgar; consequently at large he could always play Lear. It was good to get him doing that. He launched into monologues about anything, the more obscure the better. Once in a book I described and quoted from the manual of human birth defects. He bought that book. He wanted to look at what can happen.
Janice was a great beauty. He never mentioned it in print, but in his memoir he included a knockout photograph.
He loved swimming. Janice drove, or his good friend Jim the Spanish professor drove. Beyond swimming he pretty much could not do anything physical. With age his ineptitude included walking. He kept falling. He broke his arm once getting out of a canoe. He told me his Navy friend, long ago and far away, proposed to make a long documentary called Stone Hangs His Hammock.
We rented a tiny cabin in northern Montana, north of Choteau. Bob and Janice spent the week with us. I woke early one morning and found Bob sitting at a kitchen counter. He’d been up all night with an idea. He was outlining the narrative. I think that was Outerbridge Reach.
His jacket photograph on Outerbridge Reach shows him alert at the helm of a huge sailboat. He laughed and said the boat, owner unknown, was docked at a marina.
Children of Light was his ill-favored child. He loved all his books; that one got negative reviews. To be polite in other writers’ company, he praised novels he had not read. Often compared to Graham Greene, he hated Graham Greene.