All of O'Brien's Vietnam War novels are hands down the best fiction written on the Vietnam War. He is the Hemingway of Vietnam War fiction, and I'm noAll of O'Brien's Vietnam War novels are hands down the best fiction written on the Vietnam War. He is the Hemingway of Vietnam War fiction, and I'm not saying that lightly or flippantly.
This was the first of O'Brien's three great Vietnam novels and the other two are actually better than this one. His writing is so good because he conveys all of the emotions and messiness associated with war without glorifying or vilifying anyone in particular.
The point of his works seems to be catharsis or record of the feelings and experiences associated with the war for people to consider before engaging in conflicts - which is something that has been taken too lightly over the last decade and a half.
O'Brien weaves his conflicted thoughts on the ethics of the war, possibility and responsibility associated with dodging the draft or fighting in a war he doesn't believe in, pressures of duty and obligations to please others, fear, boredom, bravery, and death. In this work, these all come together into a pseudo journal layered over snapshots of events and experiences during his time there which give a general impression of what his time was like.
This, The Things They Carried, and Going After Cacciato should be widely read and thought about in depth before making the decision to engage in armed conflict with others, because soldiers and - to a different extent - their families bear the sacrifices and struggles associated....more
This was great but then again I love Waters and Bmore so maybe not for everyone. This book contains the little stories and tangents one would hope toThis was great but then again I love Waters and Bmore so maybe not for everyone. This book contains the little stories and tangents one would hope to have if they ever had the privilege of running into Waters and sharing drinks in some dive....more
Murakami is one of my favorite authors and has a particularly unique interesting writing style. I heard mixed reviews on this one so passed on readingMurakami is one of my favorite authors and has a particularly unique interesting writing style. I heard mixed reviews on this one so passed on reading it for a while. I'm glad I did because it is one of his weaker and more flawed works.
The writing is good like always and it has the same surreal dream-like qualities of so many Murakmi novels. There appear many of his repeating themes - males trying to figure things out and mature, conflicted sexual relations, violence for the sake of transformation, women acting as guides and protectors, and fluid time/dimensions. Cats, water, and dreams also make their regular appearances.
Murakami novels are all fairly open-ended without a clear reveal or resolution, but this one leaves the reader feeling like there wasn't a point or reason for going reading through the story at all at the conclusion. This is a shame because some of the characters were really interesting in their own right and it should have held together better.
I think the manner in which Kafka was rather clunkily referenced throughout the story and attempts to be surreal in like fashion added little to the story and probably caused much of the disjointed feeling.
Overall, it's a better than average story with great writing and interesting characters that just don't hold together enough to fulfill on the usual greatness of Murakami....more
So this was tough for me. I loved the first 180 pages. Unlike some of the other reviewers who claim the story is too slow, I thought it meandered alonSo this was tough for me. I loved the first 180 pages. Unlike some of the other reviewers who claim the story is too slow, I thought it meandered along in an expression fitting for two middle distance runners, which is how the book opens.
There were flaws throughout particularly with the periphery characters who were not well fleshed out. There was a sister who with mental illness that was not addressed well and only seemed to exist to underline overall themes of mental illness and those who live and care for them. It was extraneous, not well addressed and had nothing to do with the main story. The wealthy parents seemed more straw hyperboles or caricatures instead of true foils or counters. And their extremeness served little purpose. Even the wife wasn't enough of a real person to matter. She served more as a blank sounding board to give greater light to the narrator's thoughts instead of having a life of her own.
The dynamics between the two main characters were still interesting enough to keep one going until near the end when a strangely unnecessary digression was unveiled that didn't fit with the tone and flow of the prior story. The author seemed to reach a point where he didn't know how to go further, so he just threw on a somewhat formulaic and soap operaish underlying cause of the madness from a very biased actor with no follow up, corroboration, or counter views. It left one feeling somewhat cheated, and duped with lazy writing not to mention the dubious psychology.
It made for a somewhat underwhelming and disappointing ending after the opening. I got into it a lot initially hoping for something along the lines of the Razor's Edge, which I love, but it just didn't pan out. Perhaps a good editor and some more time for improvements would have helped, but ultimately this is just a story that collapses under its overwhelming flaws.