Outerbridge Reach Essay - Critical Essays

Robert Stone

Critical Context

The excited reception of Outerbridge Reach suggests that many critics considered Robert Stone America’s leading novelist, at least in the arena of the “big issue” novel that takes up the moral problems of the age. After a brilliant beginning to his career with Hall of Mirrors (1967) and Dog Soldiers (1974), his A Flag for Sunrise (1981) and Children of Light (1986) left some enthusiasts disappointed and hopeful that a new novel in the man-against-the-sea tradition would have substance enough to carry the weight of Stone’s themes. Critics in general seem to feel this hope was justified, and while Stone has been criticized for windiness, he has also been praised for his balance—counterweighting his customary social deviants with citizens solid to a fault— his lively and interesting prose, his evocation of place, and his masterful plotting of doomed relationships. Thus Outerbridge Reach gave new hope that a mature Stone would deliver the crowning works his youth promised, and that this sensitive recorder of the 1960’s generation’s angst and fears would produce new surprises and insights in coming years.