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A Flag for Sunrise Paperback – March 10, 1992
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An emotional, dramatic and philosophical novel about Americans drawn into a small Central American country on the brink of revolution.
About the Author
Robert Stone's first novel, A Hall of Mirrors, won a William Faulkner Foundation Award. Dog Soldiers received a National Book Award, and A Flag for Sunrise won both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. His other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, and a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Both A Hall of Mirrors and Dog Soldiers were made into major motion pictures. Mr. Stone died in 2015.
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• Holliwell is an American academic who spent time in Vietnam before going to Honduras to speak at the university. He is drafted by a pair of CIA agents to come with them to the fictional country of Tecan.
• Pablo Tabor is an awol, drug-addled Coast Guardsman who joins up with a group of gun runners who are heading to Tecan.
• Sister Justin is a beautiful young nun who works in a mission on the Caribbean coast of Tecan. She questions not only her faith, but her reasons for staying in a country where she is not wanted.
• Father Eagan is an elderly priest who works in the mission with Sister Justin. He’s driven to madness after seeing the frozen body of a young woman who was killed by a psycopath who roams the beaches of Tecan.
Robert Stone has written a story that is at times brilliant and mystical, at times unfathomably abstract. He beautifully portrays the lives of four people suffering from the disillusionment and drift that infected so many post-Vietnam Americans. This is not an uplifting book. By the end, the reader is left with the same sense of despair and emptiness that consumes all four characters.
only a few criticisms here. i found the beginning somewhat slow/opaque as stone establishes his characters & plot in the book's first half. the pace quickens in the second half once he's dispensed with this work. additionally, there are not a lot of sympathetic characters here. that makes stone a realist, which i appreciate, but also makes it a little harder sometimes to empathize. Having said that, by midpoint you do develop empathy for Justin, and to an extent for Pablo and Holliwell, though both the latter are flawed characters.
nonetheless stone is a master, one of the greatest novelists plying his trade today.
Having been to Costa Rica and Panama in the last two years very strong descriptive prose without impeding the narrative
Several vivid characterizations but utterly cynical as opposed to Dog where there was one character who you could at least root for
An interlocking plot with three strands which I found ultimately implausible
Saints and sinners compete in this Third World nightmare, each with a different agenda. It's an ideological train wreck and the ultimate victims are the disenfranchised. The name of the game is greed and the players are the usual: privately owned corporations, interested governments, a militia trained to fight insurrection, various criminals, religious zealots and a panoply of hired spies and assorted operatives. Our personal guide is Frank Holliwell, an American anthropologist with "Company" ties from his days in Vietnam, visiting the region ostensibly to give a lecture. Holliwell becomes one more pawn in a dangerous game with incredibly high stakes.
In the final act, no one is who he seems in this Darwinian struggle for dominance. The common people are disposable, the cause is mutable and the quality of civilization a casualty of events. Enter at your own risk, this is Robert Stone at his best. But know this: you step into chaos in this novel (with no separate chapters) that jolts from one state of anxiety to another, watching over your shoulder at every turn.