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23 August 2013

Great Fiction: Matterhorn (Karl Marlantes)

Just finished Karl Marlantes' first novel (that took him thirty years to write!) Matterhorn.  

The Amazon summary of the book:
An incredible publishing story—written over the course of thirty years by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, a New York Times best seller for sixteen weeks, a National Indie Next and a USA Today best seller—Matterhorn has been hailed as a “brilliant account of war” (New York Times Book Review). Now out in paperback, Matterhorn is an epic war novel in the tradition of Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and James Jones’s The Thin Red Line. It is the timeless story of a young Marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company, who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood. Standing in their way are not merely the North Vietnamese but also monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, disease and malnutrition. Almost as daunting, it turns out, are the obstacles they discover between each other: racial tension, competing ambitions, and duplicitous superior officers. But when the company finds itself surrounded and outnumbered by a massive enemy regiment, the Marines are thrust into the raw and all-consuming terror of combat. The experience will change them forever. 
Matterhorn is a visceral and spellbinding novel about what it is like to be a young man at war. It is an unforgettable novel that transforms the tragedy of Vietnam into a powerful and universal story of courage, camaraderie, and sacrifice: a parable not only of the war in Vietnam but of all war, and a testament to the redemptive power of literature.

And it is absolutely true.  Mattherhorn is a book that at once makes you want to be a Marine so that you can serve with Bravo Company, while at the same time makes you hate war and all its causes so much that you never want to do anything to be a part of violence.  The book, so vivid, led me to nearly pray for the men who appeared in the book and had died.  Then I realized they weren't real.

But you know, these men were real: by other names of course.

So I pray for Bravo Company anyway.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I actually got that for my Dad as a gift, and he really liked it too.

Chris J

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