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In the Lake of the Woods

3 Ratings: 3.7
A book by Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien has been writing about Vietnam in one way or another ever since he served there as an infantryman in the late 1960s. His earliest work on the subject,If I Die in a Combat Zone, was an intensely personal memoir of his own tour of duty; … see full wiki

Author: Tim O'Brien
Publisher: Penguin
1 review about In the Lake of the Woods

"A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable." Wordsworth

  • Aug 15, 2011
Rating:
+4
It's not that long ago that events surrounding the massacre of My Lai reverberated in the minds of Americans. The men of Charlie Company were sent on a search and destroy mission which got out of hand with the resulting deaths of approximately 300 unarmed civilians.

"In the Lake of the Woods," tells of John and Kathy Wade who are together at that lake in Minnesota, on the Canadian border.

They are taking time together to try to figure out what John would do after John's landslide loss in a political campaign. He had been a rising star, politically, being lieutenant governor at age thirty-seven. From this lofty success, he doesn't know how he'll deal with the end of his dreams.

The author describes John and Kathy's early life at the University of Minnesota, there are letters while John is in Vietnam and they marry once he is deactivated from active service.

They have been offered this cabin by a friend after John's staggering loss. At first, things seem normal. However, John awakens one morning after a possible blackout and Kathy has disappeared. John cannot remember what might have caused this.

What is interesting is that the author offers different hypothesis. Did Kathy run off? Did John kill her and hide the body? Did she have an accident on the lake?

With Tim O'Brien's journalistic manner of writing, he describes John's actions in Vietnam as a member of Charlie Company. The story is filled with quotations from other participants in the massacre. Then, we wonder what is the psychological effect of these actions on John.

John's character is well described as is the setting and the historical happenings in Vietnam. Perhaps John is an extreme example of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome which not only caused the downfall of a politician on the rise but led to whatever happened between John and his wife.

This dark novel is an imaginative and stimulating portrayal of the aftermath of war and the disolution of a man's spirit and possibly, his life.

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