Robert Stone (novelist)

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Robert Stone (August 21, 1937 – January 10, 2015) was an American novelist.


A Hall of Mirrors (1966)[edit]

  • "You goin' to get killed one time, you know that?"
    "You don't never get out of this world alive."
    • "Book 1" - at p. 30 [Page numbers per the Picador 1999 UK paperback edition.]
  • "Honey, this town has got just one principal industry where girls is concerned. They can call it what they like but it generally always ends you up in the same position."
    • p. 34
  • This way madness lies.
    • p. 41
  • But you got to hang on, she thought. You got to hang on because if you lose hold you'll just break up and drift off and go washin' off the edge of this fuckin' world, you'll just melt down into a sprinkle of powder with nobody there, you'll be sawdust for them to sweep up or spit into.
    • p. 115
"What's going on out there," Rheinhardt said, "is there are like a few billion people walking around and every one of them has a head with a lot of stuff going on in it."
  • "What's going on out there," Rheinhardt said, "is there are like a few billion people walking around and every one of them has a head with a lot of stuff going on in it."
    • "Book 2" - p. 174
  • It brought him to a latticed gate over which a small, iron Christ stared down in wide-eyed rusty death from the gibbet of a green, oxidised cross.
    • p. 176
  • "If somebody ever tells you, Geraldine, that they need you, you tell them to buy a dog."
    • p. 201
  • "You and I, my boy, compose a tiny island of sanity in what is otherwise a fucking nuthouse."
    • "Book 3" - p. 303
  • A different voice sounded from the field now, an old man's voice.
    "Where are they now," the voice asked sadly, "those godly farms, the dear little streets of homely homes and friendly faces? Ploughed under, I say, or about to be - in this black age of arrogance and agitation, misfits and miscegenation! Friends, a teeming rootless rabble gnaws at the sacred fabric of our way of life. The sun shone less brightly on God's country this morning."
    • p. 308
  • "When you stir up the bottom you naturally bring up some big fish."
    • p. 332
  • "The Deep Six comes for all, babe, the rich man and Lazarus."
    • p. 334

A Flag for Sunrise (1981)[edit]

  • "We're at a very primitive stage of mankind," Nolan declared, "that's what people don't understand. Just pick up the Times on any given day and you've got a catalogue of ape behaviour. Strip away the slogans and excuses and verbiage, the so-called ideology, and you're reading about what one pack of chimpanzees did to another."
    • At p. 26 [Page numbers per the First Vintage International Edition, March 1992.]
  • "Are we friends today?" she asked him.
    "There's a level, Justin, on which we're always friends. Then there's a level on which we can't be."
    • p. 39
  • All anybody cares about in this fucking country, he thought, is money.
    • p. 96
  • "Ladies and gentlemen," Holliwell declaimed, "esteemed colleagues." Who in hell, he wondered, are these people?
    • p. 106 [Start of a lecture by a drunken orator.]
  • "The thing to do with embarrassment," he told the young American couple who seemed determined to engage him, "is work it all the way to humiliation."
    • p. 116
  • "Hey, Cecil," Pablo said, "I want to ask you something, man. Promise you won't get pissed? What do you think is the use of me?"
    "De use of you?" Cecil asked, incredulous.
    "The use - you know. The use of me."
    "Well now . . ." Cecil began. A throb of laughter trembled in his throat. "Dat be hard to say, you know."
    "Cecil, I'm the first fucker in the world knows that. But right off ... what would you say the use of me was?"
    "De use of you, mon? Same as everbody. Put one foot to front of de other. Match de dolluh wif de day."
    "That's all?"
    "Sure dat's all. Good times, hard times. Mos' certainly dat's all."
    "Don't you think everybody got some special purpose?"
    "Hey," Cecil demanded, "what I look like - a preacher, mon? Purpose of you and me to be buried in de ground and das hard enough to do. Be buried in de sweet ground and not in dat ocean." They drank their rum together.
    "Dreamin' be de ruin of you, sailor. Be de ruin. Old chap, you too young to be worryin' after dose tings. Be burnin' out your mind."
    "It is burning," Pablo said. "Burning out."
    "Go to sleep, Pablo. Go upstairs and sleep it off, mon."
    • p. 126-127
  • "It's a Walt fucking Disney true life adventure, sweetheart," he told her. "That's all it is."
    • p. 127
  • With the thought came the recollection of a poem he had once heard read, about a mouse so frightened it went to the cat for love.
    • p. 139
  • It's what you want, he told himself. Don't obsess over it. Do it.
    • p. 140
  • "When you get too far from Madison, Wisconsin, it gets unsanitary," Tom Zecca said. "The people get funny-looking and it's hot."
    "My grandfather," Tom Zecca told them, "always said to me - kid, you don't know how lucky you are to live in America. Back there it's all shit. You take your hat off and you eat dirt. Here you got it made."
    • p. 142
  • "What I wonder," Bob Cole said in his strange tremulous voice, "is whether the people down here have to live this way so that we can live the way we do. We have to believe it's no, don't we? We couldn't face up to it otherwise. Because if most of the world lives in this kind of poverty so that we can have our goodies and our extra protein ration - what does that make us?"
    • p. 158, 159
  • "We have a proverb, sir, in my grandfather's country. In his island. I'm positive they have the same proverb in China. It goes 'To trust is good. Not to trust is better.' "
    • p. 172
  • "It isn't religion they need down here," Heath declared after five minutes. "They've had plenty of that. It's the pill. If this coast had half the population it has it would be in damn fine shape."
    • p. 188
  • People liked to get you thinking you were small-time. That way, they made out and you got fucked. It was that way now, he thought: they were in the cabin talking big-time scores and he was hauling groceries for them. They might pay him or they might not; he was a yo-yo to them. One of life's little yo-yos.
    But the fact was, they were old and soft. They were making it big, they had made their move, but they were soft. Surely, he thought, their day was over. It was someone else's turn now, someone smarter and tougher. And it was all in your mind; if you let weak people buffalo you, they would keep you down. He had been letting them do it all his life and it was time to call them on it. He was young, he was strong, a soldier of fortune. He had seen them up close, they were nothing much.
    You had to take risks, there was nothing for free.
    • p. 239
  • "A little cinder in the wind, Pablo - that's what you are."
    "Everybody's worth something," Pablo said. "I mean - everybody's life got some meaning to it. You know - there's a reason for people."
    "No kidding? A reason for you? What is it?"
    "I don't know," Pablo confessed. "I ain't found out yet. But I know there is one."
    • p. 253
  • In all the working systems, she thought, the weakness was always yourself - that spot of gristle in the gears. It applied on every level - even the act of getting through a day could be performed with gusto and dispatch if you kept out of your own way. Justin believed that she knew as much as anyone about self-struggle.
    • p. 264
  • She did not want to bury him here, she thought, under a twisted wire cross. There was a stone vault for him under the lime trees in California, where he could sleep with all those other shadows who had worn down their steps on carpeted altars by candlelight. Broken their hearts, minds, sex and entrails in the imperfect service of their Holy One, their Hanged Man.
    • p. 287
  • He thought she was a unicorn to be speared, penned, and adored. He wanted her white goodness, wanted a skin of it. He wanted to wash in it, to drink and drink and drink of it.
    • p. 299
  • There were two hungers and an illusion of fulfilment.
    • p. 378
  • "You see," Heath said, "I'm the wrath of God in my tiny way. I don't go seeking out the misguided and the perverse, not at all. Those afflicted find me. I'm the shark on the bottom of the lagoon. You have to sink a damn long way before you get to me. When you do, I'm waiting."
    • p. 402
"It's my nature."
  • "There's a story about how people are," Holliwell told Pablo. "It's about a buffalo and a scorpion. I'm sure you've heard it.
    "A scorpion comes up to a buffalo on a riverbank. Please, sir, says the scorpion - could you give us a ride across? No way, says the buffalo. You'll sting me and I'll drown. But the scorpion swears he won't. Why would I, he asks the buffalo, when if I did, I'd drown along with you? So off they go. Halfway across the scorpion stings the buffalo. And the poor buffalo says, you bastard, you killed us both. Before they go under, the scorpion says - it's my nature."
    • p. 430

Damascus Gate (1998)[edit]

  • "I know that in the United States people are what they choose to be," he said.
    • At p. 115 [Page numbers per the Picador 1998 UK Edition.]
  • "Believe only what you know," he said.
    • p. 118
  • "Over and over our plans foundered on human nature. On the mediocrity of human nature that betrays its better self, its best ideals, that is unworthy of itself everywhere.
    "Shocking, the mediocrity of everything - is it not?"
    • p. 232
  • "Don't laugh at my fantasies," she said. "Not if you want to be in them."
    • p. 246
  • And that was it, he thought. It was all a series of rooms one never found one's way out of. You had to be content with that, or die, or go completely crazy.
    • p. 249
  • He kept not looking at her. This, Sonia had come to realize, usually meant something, though it was often difficult to decide what. Shyness, morbid hypersensitivity and homicidal racism could all assume the same aspect.
    • p. 302
  • One wore a brown army-style sweater, extensively darned and full of holes. The darning was old and unraveling; it looked as if someone had once cared enough to repair his sweaters and then just given up.
    • p. 305
  • "The fact is," Nuala said, "we're in different situations. For each of us it's different."
    • p. 325
  • Discretion came hard to Lucas, who tended to think slowly and aloud, but it was time to try a little harder.
    • p. 341
  • "Don't go alone to lonely places."
    • p. 358
  • "And stay away from the wrong people."
    "You never know who's who," Lucas said.
    • p. 359
  • "They don't worry too much if they get the wrong man," Ernest said. "They reckon whoever they get is probably guilty of something. Or would have been eventually. And if he didn't do anything, he probably wanted to."
    • p. 361
  • "It can't be an easy thing," Lucas said, "to make a country. It's tough enough to make a café. Or to make one be the way you imagined it. Unless you only let certain people in and keep the rest out."
    • p. 363
  • "Lately we seem to get into arguments about what the country's about."
    "I thought that was the national pastime."
    "It is," Ernest said.
    • p. 363
  • Everyone loses everything in the end.
    • p. 500

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