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Death of the Black-Haired Girl

2.66  ·  Rating Details ·  951 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
“Robert Stone is a vastly intelligent and entertaining writer, a divinely troubled holy terror ever in pursuit of an absconded God and His purported love. Stone’s superb work with its gallery of remarkable characters is further enhanced here by his repellently smug professor, Steve Brookman, and the black-haired girl’s hopelessly grieving father, Eddie Stack." — Joy Willia ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 12th 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2013)
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Jul 23, 2016 Amanda rated it did not like it
Shelves: blog
Maud Stack is a beautiful, vivacious, intelligent, and careless student. Professor Steven Brookman is a handsome, Hemingway-masculine, intelligent, and careless instructor. Of course, we know what this means. It's not long before office hours become after hours, and the classroom becomes the bedroom. In terms of plot, there's nothing new or shocking in Death of the Black-Haired Girl. Professor Brookman is, of course, a very married man who, despite his occasional sexual liaison, is very much in ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Rating = 3.5 stars

"How learned and fine we believed ourselves to be! How shitty of the world to deal with us this way."

It's a story as old as academia. Adolescent co-ed falls for, and falls into bed with, her university professor. It doesn't matter if he's paunchy in plaid or sexy in silk shirts. She can't resist the allure of age and power and worldliness. But the guy's always married, with a kid or two and a career to protect. Relationship ends. Girl is left bereft by father figure.

Did Maud S
Jun 18, 2014 Alison rated it it was ok
This is a perfectly ridiculous campus melodrama, written by a man who writes very well about drugs and violence and warzones and should probably just stick to that. And I could should just leave it at that, because that's true and it's hardly worth wasting type on a mistake of a novel. BUT HOLY SHIT WHAT A MISTAKE.

switterbug (Betsey)
Nov 01, 2013 switterbug (Betsey) rated it liked it
At a small, prestigious New England liberal arts college, a brilliant young undergraduate student, Maud Stack, is killed by a hit-and-run driver. When it happened, she had been standing outside with her college professor ex-lover in an angry confrontation. There were many witnesses, and opposing points of view about how she died, why she died, and who killed her. Additionally, there are characters either central or peripheral to Maud's life that provoke the reader into asking questions about tru ...more
Nov 02, 2013 Deborah rated it it was ok
As I’d read the back cover blurb about this book I expected to be following college academic Steve Brookman, who’d been having an affair with the lovely but headstrong Maud Stack; as we’re reliably informed (from the blurb) that Brookman realises his folly and – though obviously reticent – decides to break off his relationship. (Well that, plus his wife is pregnant (again) after many years of trying.)

However, we’re first introduced to college student Maud and her moderately successful actress r
Oct 31, 2013 Jill rated it liked it
Is the universe indifferent to our suffering? Do those who believe they hold all the answers always think they have the right to hurt those who don’t believe them? These two broad questions are at the core of Robert Stone’s latest novel.

The eponymous black-haired girl is Maud Stack – beautiful, mercurial, spoiled, and self-destructive. While attending college in New England, she begins an affair with her middle-aged and emotionally damaged college advisor, Steven Brookman. To prove her mettle, M
Mar 26, 2016 Barbara rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-challenge
2.5 stars

While browsing in the library I picked this book up because - from the title - I thought it was a mystery. Though there's a death in the story it's not a mystery as such, with detectives following clues, etc. It's more of a literary novel.

The basic story: Maud Stack is a beautiful, bright co-ed at a prestigious New England college. She drinks too much, is having an affair with her professor/advisor Steve Brookman, and writes for the college newspaper, 'The Gazette'. Local anti-abortion
Apr 17, 2014 Steve rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Not good. Stone, a writer I really admire, is now at the point in his career where he's sadly cannibalizing parts and characters from previous novels (in particular Flag for Sunrise and Bay of Souls) in order to crank out something "new." Some (the New York Times) are calling this a fast paced "literary thriller." Well, it is true that there are elements of both literary fiction and noirish thriller (none of which are "fast") in the novel, but not enough to satisfy the lover of literary fiction ...more
Dec 27, 2013 Mrtruscott rated it it was ok
I wish I had started with Stone's earlier work, which I hear is good and even excellent.
This, sadly, read like "notes for some possible screenplays if I need money fast." I could not even detect an editor's slight touch. I pity the editor who is associated with this book.

There were what in movies are called continuity errors - a college counselor is paid enough to dress well, but her office is In a basement because her status is so (aptly) low. This character, a former nun, had a rough draft o
Feb 03, 2014 Alexandria rated it it was ok
I definitely had the wrong idea about this book. I thought I was getting a crime thriller, maybe some mystery, a little romance. Instead, I found this philosophical rambling much more boring. I don't mind authors who spend a lot of time on character development, but I still didn't understand the characters by the time I turned the last page.

Some of the scenes and descriptions were so vague, I'd have no clue what was going on or what author Robert Stone was referring to until it was referenced m
Dec 11, 2013 Abby rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
A bright, beautiful, troubled student at an elite New England college is dumped by her professor-lover after he learns that his wife is pregnant. When the girl dies in an apparent hit-and-run, there is some question as to whether it was an accident. Might her aggressive diatribe against anti-abortion protesters have been a factor? The professor?

In a Robert Stone novel, you don't expect a thriller. You expect contemplation of moral and spiritual questions, characters wracked with guilt and ambiv
Dec 10, 2013 Mike rated it did not like it
I found this book to be a waste of my time. It is self-indulgent and pretentious. The author apparently wants to communicate a few randomly associated opinions he has (regarding religion, abortion, drugs, police, higher education) and has combined them with chewing gum and post-it notes. The plot is thin and stressed by the number of ornaments Stone has decided to dangle from its weak limbs. The descriptions are often just attempts to show off how good he is without advancing the story, the sett ...more
Pauline Viskup
Jun 03, 2014 Pauline Viskup rated it did not like it
Read this for my book club. None of us cared for this book. It was a big disappointment.
Feb 04, 2014 Nicole rated it did not like it
That one star is based on the first half of the book, which was all I could take.
Bill Talley
Dec 09, 2015 Bill Talley rated it really liked it
Shelves: gmbc, fiction
Deeath of a Black Haired Girl reads as easily as a murder mystery, while tackling some very big issues. In the end the book is not merely about the death of the black haired girl, a college student who wades into the abortion issue. The book is ultimately about how we as individuals choose what has meaning for us and whether ultimately that choice is meaningful at all. On a micro level the book seems to suggest that very little of what we believe or hope for has much affect on our fellow beings. ...more
Jul 20, 2015 Simon rated it did not like it
1.5 stars.... Stone's final novel is a busy mess of a book, one that never pauses to develop the character at its center. College student Maud Stack is by turns an alcoholic, a firebrand writer for the campus newspaper, and the lover of a professor. It's Maud's death that sets the story in motion, but Stone is only interested in her as a set of behaviors that cause reactions in others. The world Robert Stone sets this novel is resolutely depressing, and Stone doesn't hesitate to pile on. Recentl ...more
Megan Folse
Jan 05, 2016 Megan Folse rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was going to write this review later, but I can't sleep. The longer I think about this book, the more I hate it. What gets under my skin, more than the book itself, are the reviews oozing praise for this book from some of the major newspapers. Then I check GoodReads and see that many other readers agree with me. Thank god!

My first hint that this book would not make it onto my favorites list was when the lovely Maud gave dear professor a blowjob. It was like a scene from a cheesy porno; all tha
Skip Ferderber
Feb 16, 2014 Skip Ferderber rated it did not like it
First there was film noir, now there is college noir. A distinguished writer turns Harvard into Sin City (I'm looking at you, graphic-novel-turned-incomprehensible-movie). I tried hard getting into these characters, into that dark college that we know to be Harvard but, coyly is Not Named. I tried holding on through sad nuns, room mates with far too much back story, infidelity, young writers who truly did need an editor (what a badly written diatribe), the alcoholic emphysema ex cop morning his ...more
Jan 14, 2014 Tony rated it liked it
DEATH OF THE BLACK-HAIRED GIRL. (2013). Robert Stone. ***.
I admire Stone’s writing skills, but this, his latest novel, left me cold. Although well written, I’m not sure what it was about. The plot is straight-forward: A young college professor has an affair with one of his students; unfortunately, he is married with one child and another on the way, and he has to break the relationship up. The student doesn’t want that to happen and threatens to break up his marriage in a forceful way. An accide
May 28, 2014 Maree rated it liked it
Depressing, but interesting in how it outlines the fallout from the death of one girl. I don't think that's a spoiler, seeing that it's in the title that she's going to die. But it's interesting that the reader is allowed to get to know her a bit before she actually dies, with the knowledge that she is going to. And you can't help but like her, not because she is a kind and sweet person, but because of her edges and because she wants what everyone wants out of life.

Definitely an interesting read
John Pappas
Mar 26, 2014 John Pappas rated it really liked it
While it would be reductive to see Stone's latest novel as simply a post-9/11 allegory, the campus Stone describes is a petri dish for a study in the tensions between passion and responsibility, and the consequences of
living without limits to one's personal power. He limns the edges of freedom and security in personal and political ways (vis a vis his particular brand of conflicted Catholicism and justice), but never hides behind false-seeming allegory. Fast-paced and multi-faceted, Stone's narr
Feb 13, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Pretty fantastic. At times incredible. My first Robert Stone novel, and won't be my last. The titular event occurs about halfway through the novel, and it does suck a little life out of things. What began as an almost sprawling book gets pretty focused, and I missed the anything-can-happen nature of things. This seems to be billed as a thriller or a sort of genre novel in certain places, but aside from some serious exposition (esp. in character introductions), it reads like pure high lit. Some r ...more
Joan Cobb
Jan 25, 2014 Joan Cobb rated it it was ok
Again I was hoping for a Robert Stone book that I would like as well as his earlier novels. Unfortunately this was not it. Is it a new trend to write novels full of characters about whom none are nice or sympathetic or that the reader even cares about? In addition this one attempts to comment about the Catholic Church, abortion, homelessness, self-absorbed college students as well as their professors. Fortunately it was short but not recommendable.
Feb 23, 2015 Larry rated it really liked it
Bob Stone does not miss, when it comes to middle-class Catholic lives. While he didn't write a mystery pageturner like this one typically, in Death of the Black-Haired Girl, he out-Lehanes Dennis Lehane. The plot may be a bit thin, thus the four, not five stars, but there is so much delicious writing here to leave your head spinning. He is sorely missed.
Nov 16, 2013 James rated it it was ok
A great disappointment. I enjoyed his other books, especially his short story collection. This book is ruined by a strange obsession with 'right to lifers' and the Catholic church. If Stone just couldn't help going on about these pet peeves, he should have done it in essay form. It all seems forced and not holistic with the story.
Mandi Bean
Nov 09, 2013 Mandi Bean rated it liked it
The tone is pretentious and the prose seems bent on alienating non-academic readers. The elitist undertone suggests anyone who did not attend college is unworthy of anything fortunate and/or psychotic. The symbolism is heavy handed and the allusions try too hard to be impressive. Some scenes are so terribly vague and out of joint that reading the text is more frustrating than enjoyable.
Oct 22, 2014 Alexis rated it it was ok
This book was horrible. It jumped around a lot, was hard to follow and it felt like I wasted time to read it. Just horrible.
Dec 14, 2013 Connie rated it really liked it
A hard book - starkly drawn characters, uncompromising plot. This is not a fun read, but it is a truthful read.
Jan 02, 2014 Dorothy rated it did not like it
Terrible book. Over hyped in the reviews. A massive waste of time
Sep 11, 2016 FrankH rated it really liked it

Lux in umbras procedet -- the academic motto.

In the days of old the college had presumed to send forth its light, a few homilies, to doomed praying Indians. In its own heart it never knew and never learned, light or darkness -- about either or how to distinguish one from another. It sent out bookish young men, and eventually women to save the world by generations. But the college had never known darkness until they threw away the keys, and the shadows the place had pondered and reported and trie
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ROBERT STONE was the author of seven novels: A Hall of Mirrors, Dog Soldiers (winner of the National Book Award), A Flag for Sunrise, Children of Light, Outerbridge Reach, Damascus Gate, and Bay of Souls. His story collection, Bear and His Daughter, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and his memoir, Prime Green, was published in 2006.
His work was typically characterized by psychological compl
More about Robert Stone...

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“How learned and fine we believed ourselves to be! How shitty of the world to deal with us this way.” 3 likes
“He would keep what he would always believe had to be a false memory of her falling like a booted Icarus out of a lighted sky in which there was somehow falling snow and her mouth open in a lovely O that had started to shape a word, and her long legs against the electric light, shooting out of the blue plastic square that rose like a kite lifting on a whirlwind and one of her boots flying what seemed the length of the block” 0 likes
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