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Expect The Unexpected In Dog Soldiers

Dog Soldiers is a crazy, fast-paced novel, very fitting for the time period in which it’s set: The Vietnam War. The book is gritty and heavy on plot, and you know I love plot.

Anyway, in the middle of describing all the chaos of running a heroin drug ring that goes from Vietnam to Los Angeles, Robert Stone drops a little beauty of a paragraph.

In this scene, Converse, the protagonist, is entering the apartment of an old guy, an opium addict named Monsieur Colletti. This appears on the TV screen:

On the screen, two cowboys were exchanging rifle fire at a distance of thirty meters or so. They were fighting among enormous rounded boulders, and as far as one could tell each was trying to move as close to the other as possible. One cowboy was handsome, the other ugly. There was music. At length, the handsome cowboy surprised the ugly one loading his weapon. The ugly cowboy threw his rifle down and attempted to draw a sidearm. The handsome one blew him away.

Maybe that was the old-school cowboy show called Gunsmoke?

I think that paragraph has a lot of meaning, but I’m not sure exactly what it is yet. Maybe Stone is saying that everything isn’t so black and white, like portrayed in the old days? Maybe the good guy is ugly and overweight. Maybe the bad guy is handsome and charming. And maybe good doesn’t always win.

Right now, I’m having a hard time seeing anyone as a “good guy” in Dog Soldiers. Whatever the case, I underlined that paragraph because I thought it must have some type of relevance to the plot.

Don’t you just love it when unexpected paragraphs jump out at you like that?

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Teresa #

    I also enjoyed the quiet interludes between the action in Dog Soldiers. I especially liked the deep musings on love, death and war. In fact those passages made the book work for me. I couldn’t have read all that heavy material otherwise. Thinking about Neuromancer, there are parallels in the characterizations. No real good guys in either but Dog Soldiers wins hands down.


    March 6, 2012
    • Yeah! A comment! I thought this might be the first “commentless” post in a long time, but Teresa saved the day!

      Great point about the parallel to Neuromancer. I thought about that, too, in terms of the dialogue. It has a bit of that cheesy, action movie feel to it.


      March 6, 2012

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