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Prime Green: Remembering the Sixtiesby Robert Stone
Synopses & Reviews
Prime Green opens during Robert Stone's last year in the Navy, when he took part in operation Deep Freeze 3, an Anarctic trip that involved circumnavigating the globe. Once out of the Navy, Stone worked for the old New York Daily News and started school at NYU. He started hanging out at the Cedar Tavern just to be in the same room as Kline and DeKooning.
From there they drifted to the French Quarter of New Orleans, where they tried to make a living reading poetry to jazz and working for the Census Bureau. Eventually, in 1962, they went to California, where Ken Kesey had just finished participating in the LSD experiments that were to contribute to the age of psychedelia. Stone experienced the mid-60s of The Merry Pranksters and The Grateful Dead first-hand, accompanied by heavy doses of psychedelics. He travelled for a time on Kesey's celebrated Furthur bus tour, and experienced his 'Acid Test' parties that were later detailed in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The book closes in Vietnam, where Stone witnessed the invasion of Laos as a correspondent for a counter — cultural publication.
A powerful memoir, Prime Green, provides an insiders look at a time many knew about only distantly. Stone's expertise as a novelist has helped him here, in his first book-length work of nonfiction, to forge a moving and adventurous portrait of a unique moment in American history.
"It's a long, strange trip that's navigated in this engaging memoir. Novelist Stone (A Hall of Mirrors) recounts his salad days from a stint in the navy in the late 1950s to a desultory trip to Vietnam as a correspondent during the disastrous 1971 invasion of Laos. Stone largely sat out the civil rights and antiwar movements and cops to no ideology beyond 'ordinary decency.' His bailiwick was the relatively apolitical counterculture, which dawned for him when he took in Coltrane, Lenny Bruce and peyote in San Francisco in the early '60s and really kicked in when he entered the circle of literary provocateur and psychedelic guru Ken Kesey, the book's presiding genius. Memorable encounters with hallucinogens, and the resulting states of heightened awareness and stoned reflection, therefore loom large. But Stone's story, from a cross-country bus trip in which he ran a gauntlet of antihippie persecution to a stint crafting lurid headlines and freakish fables for sleazy supermarket tabloids, is also a funny, entertaining picaresque. (His big-picture ruminations — say, on the links between the CIA, the drug culture and Silicon Valley — sometimes have a period-authentic muzziness.) But Stone is a born storyteller, with a wonderful feel for place and character that vividly evokes the cultural gulf America crossed in that decade. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Opening the trunk on the American Sixties might seem at first to be a fearsome, even a rueful undertaking. However, the incomparable novelist Robert Stone is obviously destiny’s choice for the role of narrator-guide. Stone has all the writerly refinements. He writes with great clarity, felicity and with perfect pitch. But more significantly he writes with unnostalgic compassion and intelligence for that tumultuous time, now surprisingly low on our horizon, but that by some necromancy of history has presented us with all we see around us today." Richard Ford
"Stone's descriptive and rhetorical intensity and versatility are strongly imprinted on every page...An excellent piece of work, and an invaluable gloss on a body of fiction that looks more prescient, and important, as the decades pass." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"What Mr. Stone excels at is conjuring the mood of specific times and places, capturing the attitude he and his friends shared as well as the larger zeitgeist." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Stone is adept at scenes and situations, and what could otherwise have been a somewhat banal listing of itinerant jobs that waft through his narrative...is instead enlivened with his irreverence in detail." Chicago Tribune
"Perpetual witness to outrage and sorrow, he maintains a stance about the war and the US orchestration that is wonderfully even handed." Boston Globe
Book News Annotation:
Stone (author of the novels A Hall of Mirrors and A Flag for Sunrise, among others) offers a memoir beginning with his service in the US Navy during the late 1950s and ending in the late 1960s, when he was reporting on the US war in Vietnam. In between these bookends, he describes sojourns with Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, various reporting assignments around the country on behalf of the Daily News and others, and negotiating with Hollywood over the film adaptation of A Hall of Mirrors, among other adventures. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the New York City of Kline and De Kooning to the jazz era of New Orleans's French Quarter to Ken Kesey's psychedelic California, Prime Green explores the 1960s in all its weird, innocent, fascinating glory. An account framed by two wars, it begins with Robert Stone's last year in the Navy, when he took part in an Antarctic expedition navigating the globe, and ends in Vietnam, where he was a correspondent in the days following the invasion of Laos. Told in scintillating detail, Prime Green zips from coast to coast, from days spent in the raucous offices of Manhattan tabloids to the breathtaking beaches of Mexico, and merry times aboard the bus with Kesey and the Pranksters.
Building on personal vignettes from Stone's travels across America, this powerful memoir offers the legendary novelist's inside perspective on a time many understand only peripherally. These accounts of the 1960s are riveting not only because Stone is a master storyteller but because he was there, in the thick of it, through all the wild times. From these incredible experiences, Prime Green forges a moving and adventurous portrait of a unique moment in American history.
In his first work of nonfiction, award-winning novelist Stone perfectly invokes the magical decade of the Sixties. The powerful memoir provides an insider's perspective of a time many only know about peripherally.
About the Author
Robert Stone is the acclaimed author of seven novels, including A Hall of Mirrors (winner of the National Book Award), A Flag for Sunrise, Children of Light, Outerbridge Reach, Damascus Gate, and Bay of Souls. His short-story collection, Bear and His Daughter, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Stone lives with his wife in New York City.
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