Matterhorn: Fiction of the Vietnam War

February 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

photoLast February, I was back in Vancouver for a visit.  I love visiting Vancouver, a city I know well (having grown up there).  Everytime I’m back in town, I go to Blackberry Books on Granville Island.  I have bought many, many books there over the years.  This time when I was in, I got into a long chat with the guy working there about history and fiction (two of my favourite subjects) and he recommended Karl Marlantes’ sprawling Vietnam War book, Matterhorn.  It’s an epic novel, telling the story of a young Marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his indoctrination into the jungle war.  It takes a long, long time to get going, I must say, but eventually it became engrossing and nearly impossible to put down.  The guy at Blackberry Books said that he doesn’t read long fiction anymore, but this book was an exception to his rule.  I agree.  For some odd reason, probably due to the amount of American history I’ve taught of late, I’ve read a lot of Vietnam War fiction, and Matterhorn is definitely up there with Tim O’Brien’s two works, The Things They Carried and If I Die in A Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home.

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