Remembering Robert Stone: Edward Hower
Fiery Angels and Toxic Demons
Robert Stone’s preapocalyptic vision made his writing, and often his conversations, experiences to be marveled at as they exploded before you. He had a dark view that, in his books, drew me as close to the edge as I could stand, then brought me back—just barely—with humor, warmth, and a new kind of knowledge: he helped me see aspects of human nature that I’d previously shied away from but now had the courage to face. Writing, Bob moved in the direction of his fears, perhaps to conquer them and the loneliness left over from a bleak childhood; he explored them fearlessly, made them incandescent. His angels were fiery indeed, as scary as they were magnificent; his demons were beyond toxic and even more terrifying. Yet both, I saw, were clearly mine as well as his, and demanded to be embraced, even celebrated.
In his life, Bob’s angels and demons often seemed to be battling just under the surface, working out an in-progress relationship that emerged in the stories he told. Sometimes they were hilarious, sometimes unsettling, and often so quirky and ingenious that I just had to shut up in hopes of hearing more. He loved listening to stories too, and joining in offbeat interpretations of them. Unlike many writers, he never talked about his accomplishments. He was much more interested in looking outward—toward ideas, historical and social events, and people, especially his friends, who are now recalling him as much as a great pal as a great writer. His last two winters in Key West were full of physical pain, but he was always welcoming to the people who came to see him, making them glad they visited. His wife of fifty-five years, Janice, whom he once profiled in an Esquire “The Women We Love” column and adored to the last, helped make his final days peaceful. He is irreplaceable and much missed.
Bill Barich · Tom Grimes · Phyllis Rose · Joy Williams · Ken Babbs ·
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