Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyFew issues in American history are as likely to cause knee-jerk reactions as the Vietnam War. Some see it as an immoral and unpopular conflict; others argue that it was winnable but that our military tactics were misguided. Flynn's ( North to Yesterday ) fifth novel doesn't try to pick its way through this minefield of opinion, but instead sets off as many tripwires as it can. Sherrill O'Connell, struggling novelist and professor at a small Texas college, tries to escape the memories of his 13-year-old daughter's death by convincing a right-wing magazine named REAL to employ him as their Vietnam war correspondent. When O'Connell is caught in a small battle in which his life and those of a TV crew are endangered, he picks up a fallen soldier's rifle and kills three Viet Cong. The media turn him into an instant celebrity--a blood-and-guts monster who bears little resemblance to the mildly conservative O'Connell. Having been exploited by the editors at REAL , O'Connell is then accused of participating in a massacre of civilians. He finds himself in a maze of falsehoods, unable to change his tough image without risking his credibility. His dilemma, told clearly and simply, raises disturbing questions about perception and truth, loyalty and betrayal. Flynn, a former Marine and Vietnam correspondent, proves himself as thoroughly familiar with the human condition as he is with the military (``klick'' is an Army term meaning ``kilometer''). Author tour. (Mar.)
Library Journal - Library JournalSherrill O'Connell is a college professor and the author of two novels about the effects of life's tragic vicissitudes on common men. As his books go misunderstood and unread, tragedy strikes home with the death of his young daughter. Finding no comfort in his wife or his work, he gets a job as a reporter in Vietnam for a right-wing men's magazine. His sense of failure continues when the magazine finds his stories too intellectual and liberal for its readers. In the midst of a fierce firefight, a desperate act makes him the news rather than the reporter and changes his perception of himself, his work, and his country. Flynn ( North of Yesterday , 1967) has written a provocative book that addresses a number of complex subjects--death, war, media manipulation, and the concept of celebrity. But it is the struggle to discover and preserve his true character that makes O'Connell someone we truly care about. Highly recommended.-- Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.
Gary AmdahlThis novel asks two straightforward questions--What is a hero? and What is reality?--in a sincere and manly yet wounded and angry manner. Its answers are bent through the flawed prism of the Vietnam War and reflected by the impenetrable surface of daily life in the U.S. to finally illumine college professor and novelist Sherrill O'Connell. Troubled by his daughter's death, this profoundly, almost unbelievably innocent man leaves his wife and job to work as field correspondent for a men's magazine devoted to cartoon standards of bravery, duty, and truth. After observing the banality and horror of war and the casual cynicism of journalists more concerned with their careers than honest reporting, O'Connell finds himself, rifle in hand, in the midst of an operation gone bad. He defends himself and several others and is quickly publicized as a hero. Gritty, skillful, and unabashed, the novel's only flaw is that Flynn doesn't seem to know exactly when it's good. Some scenes and characters alike veer from being convincing to seeming preposterous. Still, Flynn also manages some sound thinking, honest emotions, and sharp writing.
- Baskerville Publishers, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.26(w) x 9.27(h) x 1.47(d)
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