A forward by Thomas Pynchon would usually be enough to put me off a book, but I'm glad I started Stone Junction. Not so glad I finished it, however.
It's about a chap called Daniel Pearse, who grows up in a idealised counterculture with his mother in California. He's then passed between a series of tutors who show him how to meditate, play poker, grow and take drugs, disguise himself and, finally, perform actual proper magic. Then there's a heist which goes....strangely.
I really enjoyed much of the book. It's very earnest, there's a lot of pseudo-mystical balderdash and the lead character's kind of a blank slate. But I did like the folksy American style and the love of rebelliousness. I'm no fan of hippies of course, but there's always something to be said for sticking it to the man. There are also some great passages - a botched plutonium raid, rebuilding a riverboat casino, playing a high stakes lo-ball game. And the writing style won't be to everyone's taste, but it rattled along nicely and was nothing like Pynchon.
But this is a failed novel. From about the halfway point it starts going downhill and gathers momentum until the truly horrible ending. It's hard not to suspect that the writer didn't know where he was going, so he thought big handfuls of drugs would dig him out of a hole. This makes it sound better than it is.
In fact, there is a decent plot going on. There's a big mystery about what happened to Daniel's mother, and two people trying to figure it out and there's even a relatively satisfying answer, but it gets buried under truckloads of bollocks about magic, love, madness and a big diamond. Again, sounds like it could be good. But not good in any way.
It's a real pity because I was loving this at the start, and there are so many interesting avenues I thought it was going to go down. Colourful characters appear and vanish a couple of pages later. One important character from the beginning turns insane, then disappears until the last couple of pages. They never get the riverboat casino back under steam!
My suggestion would be to read the first half, then make up the second half yourself. And you should probably take less drugs than the author.
Now re-reading an excellent history of pre-columbian America and listening to a very interesting book by Tony Blair's ex-chief of staff, looking at his rise to power and the challenges of office through the lessons of Machiavelli.