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Prime Green: Remembering The Sixties (2007)

Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties (2007)

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3.43 of 5 Votes: 3
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0060198168 (ISBN13: 9780060198169)

About book Prime Green: Remembering The Sixties (2007)

Two things that will color my review of this:1. I'm convinced I was born in the wrong decade. I am completely addicted to and fascinated by the '60s and '70s, to the point where it actually grieves me that I didn't live through them.2. Within the first 10 pages, I knew that Robert Stone is the kind of guy that I would have fallen head over heels for had I existed in those times and ever met him. Maybe that's a weird thing to say, and that's honestly never happened to me while reading anything else before, but I can safely say that Robert Stone is my kind of guy.It seems to me that most of the people who weren't pleased with this were upset by one of two things (or both): the realization that this is not, in fact, another Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test or memoir about Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and/or Stone's writing style, which is rather... fuzzy.This is a memoir of Stone's golden years, and he treats it as such. It's written in such a way that I can hear him telling these stories to me over a meal or a few drinks. It's a bit disjointed (but not jarringly so), and it's filled with the kind of details and retrospect that make hearing about the past so damn interesting. There are moments that are stronger than others, things that are skipped over. Everything is given the proper amount of time in accordance to its weight in his life. Nothing is overly romanticized or dramatized, just the things that probably were as they happened - sunsets in Mexico, the moment he decides to marry his wife, his experience in Vietnam. He looks back not with disappointment or exultation, not with emotions distorted by memory and time, but with respect and knowledge. His passion and excitement for these stories makes it seem as though he lived all of this just yesterday, but with the knowledge he possesses today. Because of this, it feels very honest. He's upfront about his mistakes and shortcomings and those of his comrades - he doesn't hesitate to show his mistakes with drugs or his relationships, and he admits that he thinks Kesey could've been a much more monumental figure than he was, which is a pretty bold thing to say about someone worshiped as cultishly as Kesey, especially considering the two were good friends. It's actually a little hard for me to imagine what Stone's fiction must be like, because he writes memory so well. The arc follows Stone on the wild goose chase of his life. Beginning in the Navy, it follows his early days as a war journalist and an NYC tabloid journalist, working blue collar jobs in New Orleans, writing his first novel (and seeing it turned into a movie), hanging out with Kesey and his gang (he wasn't on the entire famous bus journey, just the last few days in New York, but he did spend a lot of time with Kesey & Cassady, including their Mexican exile), living in California, London, NYC, and ending with his time in Vietnam. I rather liked that it started and ended with military service and was filled in-between with passion, debauchery, sensationalism, art and drugs. It gives him a rather grounded perspective on the era - he was clearly taken with its goals and attitudes, but not as completely as many of the decades' more famous figures.On the whole, a delightful read, particularly for those entranced by the times, for writers who like hearing about/from other writers, and for those on a true quest to live well.

Richard Ford spit on Colson Whitehead. So every time I see Ford's name I think of this incident. Ford provides the sole blurb on the hardcover release of this memoir. His glowing sputteringly empty of substance paragraph grew and grew in intensity every time I thought about it and probably colored my reaction to the memoir. Its not bad but it feels sketchy in places. A big selling point seems to be Stone's relationship with Kesey, but that relationship is not gone into in any substantial detail. Kesey flits in and out of the story. Stone seems to reminisce in more detail about wild boars in Big Sur than he does Kesey. His prose style is maddeningly obtuse at times. Lots of commas, descriptive blurps. I'm tempted to run some of his sentences through Word to see it light up red, put off by the word choices and the sense they lack on that first read through. You're not supposed to make people aware of the fact that they're reading, damnit. Maybe I'm confused since Ford states Stone has "all the writerly refinements" and writes with great "clarity". Damn that blurb. The book is worth reading for the bus trip episode alone - not a Merry Pranksters trip, but poor Stone in Pennsylvania, mistaken for a no good hippie.

Do You like book Prime Green: Remembering The Sixties (2007)?

I've thought about reading this book multiple times in the past, but having no particular interest in -- or rather, an aversion to -- old hippie memoirs, I put it down. But what was I thinking?!-- this is Robert Stone, a fabulous writer, and I can see after a very few pages that this is going to be a very interesting book.Boy was I wrong about that. He did start the book out with a well-written account of a sight that moved him from his Navy days, a mass migration of penguins in the water... but what followed was a very lazy disjointed rambling account of the sixties that was most unmemorable. It ends weakly with the line "my only regret is that we didn't prevail" although what "prevailing" could mean for the disjointed and dissolute adventurers he describes I can't imagine.A disappointing and boring book.

It is difficult to understate how disappointing this memoir of the 1960s is. You'd expect that Robert Stone, who was on the bus with Ken Kesey, would have as much insight into the era as anyone. But if that's the case, it didn't come out in this book. Instead, Stone largely comes across as shallow and boring.One bon mot that I liked (which came in the epilogue, which shows how scattershot this work is):"One principle of international reportage familiar to any traveler or expatriate must be that newspapers try to tell their readers what those readers believe they already know about the countries reported on. Rarely do stories appear in which Frenchmen, Britons, Americans, Germans. Russians, et cetera behave in a manner utterly different from the national character that has been established for them (no doubt with a degree of their own collaboration) by decades of journalistic vaudeville, cartoons, and accent comedy. This is only one aspect of the newspaper business strategy of making a reader feel as knowledgeably at home in the great world as he is in his favorite living-room chair."

Smart guy, wonderful voice, fascinating time to live through, interesting life, great sense of perspective on himself. Even though he knew Kesey & co., it's not really about that; it's about a smart young man figuring out how the world works and where he fit into it as a writer and otherwise. The voice here, it has the faintest hint of Damon Runyon to it, that slightly self-conscious New York thing, as well as some phrasing left over from the sixties, so it seems like a palimpsest of growing up in NYC and living through these times. Or maybe it was just what he was reading. Anyway, I enjoyed every sentence of this. Very distinct, friendly, self-deprecating in subtle ways. Also, his politics are great, as well as his honesty about how he grew into them. He gets a little starry-eyed about the times, which I gather some people find off-putting, but it's really about his youth; he just happened to be young at a time when it could be particularly rewarding("but to be young was very heaven" to quote a much quoted quote in this context). He has the same response to spending a few weeks sleeping on the floor at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, though, but that's the kind of thing that stops being magical after you're thirty or forty or so.

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