Ursula's Reviews > Going After Cacciato

Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien
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Feb 12, 2009

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bookshelves: fiction, vietnam, vietnam-war
Read from August 15 to 19, 2013

Tim O'Brien is an author who isn't very interested in truth. Or maybe I should say the exact opposite, that he is extremely interested in it, and in fact fascinated by the concept. Either way, he's not likely to give you a straightforward, point A to point B story, and you can expect that the nature of truth will be part of the exploration. Going After Cacciato is no exception.

Cacciato is just a soldier, a guy everyone agrees is pretty dumb, who one day wanders off from their position in Vietnam. He says he's going to Paris. He has to be pursued, of course - you can't just let a deserter skip away from a war. Paul Berlin is one of the soldiers who goes after him, and the one relating the story to us. In the course of talking about going after Cacciato, Paul Berlin also reveals, bit by bit, what has happened in his war experience up to that point.

I didn't find this story as engaging as I would have hoped, but I think that may be because I read The Things They Carried before this one, and some of the same themes are explored more fully in the later work. For me, O'Brien's writing is always the star, though, particularly in the way that everything you read feels absolutely authentic and true, fiction or not.

Recommended for: anyone who's wondered if war stories are true (or if it's even possible for them to be true), those curious about the Vietnam War experience, people who like to read about the gray areas between courage and fear.

Quote: "He would stop. He decided it: He would simply fall. He would lie very still and watch the sky and then perhaps sleep, perhaps later dig out the Coke stored in his pack, drink it, then sleep again. All that was decided. But the decision didn't reach his legs. The decision was made, but it did not flow down to his legs, which kept climbing the red road. Powerless and powerful, like a boulder in an avalanche, Private First Class Paul Berlin marched toward the mountains without stop or the ability to stop."
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08/20/2013 marked as: read

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