Karl Marlantes is a former marine who, in 1977, wrote a novel inspired by his time in combat in Vietnam. Thirty-three years later Matterhorn is finally hitting the shelves.
The book was rejected over and over again, and as the years passed, suggestions made that Marlantes should change the location to feature more modern conflicts – The Gulf War or Afghanistan. But eventually, after persistence and some recommendations to publishers, it has now been released to great acclaim. Some reviewers have gone as far as saying it could well be the ‘Book of the Year’.
If you are looking for a novel that portrays the realities of war in Vietnam, you could do much worse than pick up a copy of Matterhorn.
Reviewers say the detail of Marlantes’s writing places readers firmly in the jungle highlands of South-East Vietnam. Centered on the experience of Second Lieutenant Waino Mellas and his Bravo Company we are right alongside them as they face their fears of combat and the harshness of the jungle conditions.
I am not a great lover of war stories – for me, I just want to know who wins and who loses, and what the women at home were doing at the time – but if you are someone who relishes the gritty detail of battle, who wants to feel the pain, frustration and comradeship of jungle warfare, then why not give Matterhorn a try? You will be joining many others keen to immerse themselves in the Vietnam conflict.
This month also sees the release of a 20th anniversary edition of one of the most famous collections of Vietnam War short stories to be published – The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. The book has long been prescribed reading in the U.S. and is a mixture of memoir, history and fiction which questions the reasons for war and the cost to the individual.
It is interesting that as the U.S and its allies find themselves more and more deeply embroiled in the war in Afghanistan, it is Vietnam that is once again attracting the attention of readers. War may not be a pretty subject, but if reading about Vietnam encourages readers to ask questions about current conflicts, then this can only be a good thing.
For more books on Vietnam visit Packabook’s Books Set in Vietnam. While there are further works on the war itself, there are also tales of modern Vietnam and even the odd love story!