‘Child of Light’ by Madison Smartt Bell: Rolling Away the Stone

by Paul Wilner

Too many literary biographies are a waste of space–a cut-and-paste pastiche of previously published materials, random interviews, and unselectively edited quotes, put together in the apparent rush of getting from A to Zed and be done with things. The funeral is more important than what preceded it. Madison Smartt Bell largely avoids these obstacles in Child of Light (588 pages; Doubleday), his masterly new biography of Robert Stone, in which he adheres to the Joseph Conrad dictum that Stone liked to quote: “Fiction must justify itself in every line.’’ Bell is also the editor of The Eye You See With, […]

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