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Death of the Black-Haired Girl Paperback – June 3, 2014
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A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
Winner, 2014 Paterson Fiction Prize
"A taut novel of psychological suspense… The result is at once a Hawthorne-like allegory and a sure-footed psychological thriller."
—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Book Review
"The novel is unsettling and tightly wrought—and a worthy cautionary tale about capital-C consequences."—Entertainment Weekly
“A compressed story with the swift metabolism of a thriller”
—Alexandra Alter, Wall Street Journal
"Anyone who loves fine fiction has no choice but to read this novel now."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"In his fiction, Robert Stone is immersed no less profoundly in envisioning the drama of human evil in action than was the great French Catholic novelist and Nobel Laureate, Francois Mauriac. Not only with his brilliant new novel, Death of the Black-Haired Girl but from the early novels such as Dog Soldiers and A Flag at Sunrise down to later books like Damascus Gate and Bay of Souls, he has demonstrated again and again that he is no less a master than Mauriac of the tragic novel—of depicting the fatal inner workings of revenge, hatred, betrayal, and zealotry—and that, like Mauriac, he is the pitiless guardian of a cast of sufferers on whose tribulations he manages to bestow a kind of shattered mercy."
"The death of a star student at an upper-crust university unsettles friends, faculty and family in a piercing novel from veteran novelist Stone… A critique of tribalism of all sorts—religious, academic, police—…[Death of the Black-Haired Girl is] an unusual but poised mix of noir and town-and-gown novel, bolstered by Stone’s well-honed observational skills."
—Kirkus (starred review)
"Robert Stone is one of our transcendently great American novelists. In Death of the Black-Haired Girl he turns an unflinching gaze into the darkest crevices of the human psyche, where glimmers of redemption are extremely hard-won. This fast-paced, riveting novel reflects a vivid and unforgettable image of what we have made of ourselves, in this country, at the turn of 21st century so far."
—Madison Smartt Bell
"Robert Stone is a vastly intelligent and entertaining writer, a divinely troubled holy terror ever in pursuit of an absconded God and His purported love. Stone’s superb work with its gallery of remarkable characters is further enhanced here by his repellently smug professor, Steve Brookman, and the black-haired girl’s hopelessly grieving father, Eddie Stack."
"Stone (Damascus Gate) imbues his characters with a rare depth that makes each one worthy of his or her own novel. With its atmosphere of dread starting on page one, this story will haunt readers for some time."—Publishers Weekly
From the Back Cover
Fast-paced [and] riveting . . . Stone is one of our transcendently great American novelists. Madison Smartt Bell
Brilliant. Washington Post
At an elite college in a once-decaying New England city, Steven Brookman has come to a decision. A brilliant but careless professor, he has determined that for the sake of his marriage, and his soul, he must end his relationship with Maud Stack, his electrifying student, whose papers are always late yet always incandescent. But Maud is a young woman whose passions are not easily curtailed, and their union will quickly yield tragic and far-reaching consequences.
Death of the Black-Haired Girl is an irresistible tale of infidelity, accountability, the allure of youth, the promise of absolution, and the notion that madness is everywhere, in plain sight.
At once unsparing and generous in its vision of humanity, by turns propulsive and poetic, Death of the Black-Haired Girl is wise, brave, and beautifully just. Boston Globe
Unsettling and tightly wroughtand a worthy cautionary tale about capital-C consequences. Entertainment Weekly
A taut, forceful, lacerating novel, full of beautifully crafted language. Los Angeles Review of Books
ROBERT STONE is the author of seven previous novels, including Dog Soldiers, which won the National Book Award, and the modern classics Outerbridge Reach and Damascus Gate. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA, Stone is considered one of Americas greatest living writers.
Author photograph © Phyllis Rose
Top customer reviews
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It mostly strikes me as simply unfinished.. My disappointment is not just with the schematic ending but with the fact that the many layers of the narrative - so characteristic of Stone's storytelling - have not melded to become a single entity. The characters are interesting and well drawn, but their interactions aren't quite real; Stone's descriptions of the settings hit some wonderful notes, but for once they lack real substance; and although the characters' stories are interwoven in interesting ways, those stories never come together to create a world - not even the chaotic, disconnected world Stone usually depicts, where logic often leads nowhere in particular.
Still, the man writes incredibly beautiful sentences and displays a powerful gift for conveying reality from several incompatible points of view.
Maud is potentially a compelling character, but is unrealistically one-dimensional and obscure. In fact, all of the characters - and there are few - seem like cutouts: there is Maud's elderly father, the leftist ex-nun, the town cop, etc. They seem like fillers for the author's meandering commentary on life. What little plot that exists is concerned with the fateful termination of the affair involving Maud and Steven. The writing at times is rather difficult and/or awkward. Overall, a disappointing novel.
Most recent customer reviews
While browsing in the library I picked this book up because - from the title - I thought it was a mystery.Read more