Sheila's Reviews > The Serpent Papers

The Serpent Papers by Jeff Schnader
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it was amazing
bookshelves: literature, vietnam, vietnam-war, america

Set in the time of the Vietnam War, Jeff Schnader’s The Serpent Papers follows the footsteps of a lonely young man, J-Bee, as he tries to find his own path in the twists and turns of life. His military father had plans for him, but it’s his childhood friend, not J-Bee, who’s chosen to go to war. And J-Bee is now at Columbia, navigating an era of drugs and rebellion, looking for meaning in all the wrong places, and determined to make something of his life that matters.

The Serpent of the title could be the mysterious poet who speaks in the catacombs of the campus café. It could be the tempter offering the solace of increasingly hazardous drugs. It could be the twisting head of political lies, threatening the futures of all the students as their draft numbers are set. Or it could be the coiling uncertainties that lurk in the protagonist’s dreams.

J-Bee listens to the Serpent poet then tells his own first-person tale in his own poetic voice – oddly resonant at the start, but quickly hypnotizing the reader, like the gaze of a snake. Memory’s serpent coils in J-Bee’s past. Temptations seek to mesmerize. And violence erupts near the end of the book as police and demonstrators collide. But all the twists and turns lead up to a single, arrow-straight path. And this tale of a young man finding his way, a poet’s voice finding a listener, and truth holding out its hand to truth-seeker, is a beautiful novel – haunting in the tone of its voice, fascinating in its recreation of an era, and filled with wisdom that’s relevant to any era, perhaps most especially to today.

Disclosure: I received a preview edition and I really enjoyed reading it.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 18, 2021 – Finished Reading
December 18, 2021 – Shelved
December 18, 2021 – Shelved as: literature
December 18, 2021 – Shelved as: vietnam
December 18, 2021 – Shelved as: vietnam-war
December 18, 2021 – Shelved as: america

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