Who will make the rain stop?

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By AFRANIO CATANI*

Commentary on Robert Stone's Book

New Yorker Robert Stone (1937-2015) received the Faulkner Prize in 1967 for his first novel, The Hall of Mirrors, besides a Houghfon Mifflin Literacy Fellowship. The book was turned into a film in 1970 (Director: Stuart Rosenberg), starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Who will make the rain stop? (Who'll Stop the Rain?), 1974, was also adapted for the cinema – directed by Karel Reisz, with Nick Nolte, Tuesday Weld and Michael Moriarty (1978). An active participant in the counterculture in the 1960s, having lived in New Orleans and San Francisco, Robert Stone also wrote A Flag for Sunrise (1981) Children of Light (1986) Outerbridge Reach (1992) and damascus gate (1998)

Robert Stone has been a multiple-time finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Pulitzer Prizes, the National Book Award for Fiction, in addition to receiving several other awards and grants (John Dos Passos Prize for Literature; American Academy and Institute of Arts; Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award; National Endowment for the Humanities), in addition to being chairman of the Board of Directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation for over 30 years.

In 1971 he traveled to Vietnam as a correspondent for a British newspaper, INK. This experience served as inspiration for his book. dog soldier. Author of eight novels, two collections of stories and a memoir, in addition to being a sailor for four years.

Who will make the rain stop? Its raw material is the collective madness that devastated the United States during the Vietnam War, which ended in 1973. The novel explores, in agile language, the corruption and madness that spread across the country, imprisoned in a certain way by drugs and with a large contingent of young people who prefer to take other trips rather than face the harsh reality of that moment.

The action begins in Saigon, when journalist John Converse buys three kilos of pure heroin from an American living there to be sold in the United States. Raymond Hicks, a friend of the journalist, transports the drug to Berkeley, California, where Marge, John's wife, would be in charge of selling the heroin. Things go well until Hicks and Marge meet; then the chase begins: the two manage to flee from corrupt federal agents and John is arrested. In the New Mexico desert the plot is resolved.

Part of the critics in the United States were carried away by Robert Stone's novel, with some even comparing it to Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) for the ability that both have to “link to the rapid and wild action the sober wave of its ultimate causes” (Jerry Brooks, TheSunday Times). Well, maybe Jerry Brooks got too carried away in his wits. However, I must point out, Robert Stone's book is excellent, it adopts an extremely corrosive ironic tone with regard to the USA of the late 1960s and early 1970s, happily exploring the relationship established between the Vietnam war, the counterculture and the drug.

When who goes make the rain stop? was edited, the country still had Vietnam stuck in its throat, having difficulty digesting it. After several decades, the nightmare dissipated, American society absorbed the blow and the novel lost some of its original force. Certainly, younger people may not enjoy their reading to the sound of Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin, as suggested by Geraldo Galvão Ferraz in the presentation. However, readers of any age are sure to read it as a good, moving, well-plotted novel, regardless of its vigorous political and social overtones.

*Afrânio Catani He is a retired professor at the Faculty of Education at USP and is currently a senior professor at the same institution. Visiting professor at UERJ, Duque de Caxias campus.

Modified version of article published in the extinct “Cultura” supplement of the newspaper The State of S. Paul, on April 9, 1988.

 

Reference


Robert Stone. Who will make the rain stop? Translation: Joaquim Palácios. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1988.

 

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