cover image The Eye You See With: Selected Nonfiction

The Eye You See With: Selected Nonfiction

Robert Stone, edited by Madison Smartt Bell. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-0-618-38624-6

Novelist Bell (Behind the Moon) presents a sterling collection of essays on literature, culture, politics, and war by the late Stone (1937–2015), best known for his National Book Award–winning novel Dog Soldiers. Spanning the 1970s to the aughts, the essays demonstrate Stone’s remarkable capacity for capturing an era’s ethos while making larger, and still current, points. His 1993 essay “Uncle Sam Doesn’t Want You” blasts the hypocrisy of the armed forces in discharging gay service members but not preventing the sexual harassment and assault of female personnel. In “The Reason for Stories,” Stone argues that art, and storytelling in particular, is inherently moral in its implications. The standout selection is “Keeping the Future at Bay,” on the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans. It’s a nuanced piece which addresses the issue of gentrification, steeped in Stone’s personal reminiscence of selling encyclopedias door-to-door in the city in the ’60s. Throughout, Bell provides useful biographical information, which in combination with the essays provides a vivid portrait of Stone’s background and guiding philosophy. Fans of Stone’s novels will especially appreciate the insight, but any reader of narrative nonfiction will find plenty of interest in this fine collection. Agent: Neil Olson, Massie & McQuilken. (Mar.)