HALL OF MIRRORS by Robert Stone

HALL OF MIRRORS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A scabrous underside of the American Way of Life is examined here...and left undiagnosed. The book is chock-a-block with the author's talent, and some powerful passages indicate critical acceptance (or at least attention) but no foreseeable readership. All the characters with any sensitivity are alcoholic, drugaddicted or psychiatric losers. All the officials or employers exhibit moronic brutality or worse, a paranoid urge toward dictatorship. Reinhardt is the central figure, a boozed out ex-musician turned wandering disc jockey. He picks up Geraldine, a knife-scarred teenage widow from the West Virginia hill country. Then, there's Rainey, a psychological wreck with all the sins of the South on his soul, recovering from a nervous breakdown with a nerve-shattering job as a welfare investigator. These three and numerous grotesques all come together and give each other the willies in a tumble down apartment building in New Orleans during the numb aftermath of a recent Mardi Gras. Rainey suspects evil forces and it turns out that Reinhardt works for them. He cynically acts as master of ceremonies at a monstrous rally which the owner of his station sponsors as an exercise in inciting patriotic frenzy. Rainey is destroyed trying to stop it and Geraldine is driven to suicide by it. Reinhardt understands it all and prepares to drift again. Geraldine's entrapment in urban society is the only touching reality. There are wild stretches of genuine dark humor the best of which include a double-dyed fake minister and some Negroes attempting to beat the city relief rolls. It's not the material best or even steady sellers are made of, but the author is worth watching.
Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1966
ISBN: 0140098348
Page count: 422pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1966




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