Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dog Soldiers (by Robert Stone)

This novel, which won the National Book Award the year I was born, is about 1960s counterculture and about a drug deal gone bad. It goes from Vietnam to California, from a porn theater in San Francisco to a hippie commune in the mountains. The theme of the novel is pretty much "the sixties are over."

I wish the main characters were a shade more sympathetic--Converse is just right, I think, but Marge and Hicks are kind of horrible assholes from the get-go. I don't want them to be sympathetic, I just want Hicks to be a little less rapey and Marge to be a little less hardened. I don't know why. I guess because then there would be more of a sense of progress (or regress) from the beginning of the novel to the end.

Anyway, I can't really say this "captures" the 60s because I was, you know, not alive. But it captures a sense of cultural decay, the idea that the "counterculture" is architecting its own destruction. And it's mostly suspenseful and plot-driven--a good read.

"If he had been just a bit less timid in Vietnam, he thought, he might be honorably dead -- like those heroes who went everywhere on motorbikes and died of their own young energy and joie de vivre. Now it would be necessary to face death here -- where things were funnier -- and death would be as peculiar and stupid as everything else. (p. 121)

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