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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » In the Lake of the Woods » User review

"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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About the reviewer
Mike Draper ()
Ranked #67
Michael A.Draper is a financial planner with Mass Mutual in North Haven, CT.   Married to Diana for 46 years, one son and daughter-in-law and two lovely granddaughters.      … more
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Wiki

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; his books since then have featured many of the same elements of fear, boredom, and moral ambiguity but in a fictional setting. In 1994 O'Brien wroteIn the Lake of the Woods, a novel that, while imbued with the troubled spirit of Vietnam, takes place entirely after the war and in the United States. The main character, John Wade, is a man in crisis: after spending years building a successful political career, he finds his future derailed during a bid for the U.S. Senate by revelations about his past as a soldier in Vietnam. The election lost by a landslide, John and his wife, Kathy, retreat to a small cabin on the shores of a Minnesota lake--from which Kathy mysteriously disappears.

Was she murdered? Did she run away? Instead of answering these questions, O'Brien raises even more as he slowly reveals past lives and long-hidden secrets. Included in this third-person narrative are "interviews" with the couple's friends and family as well as footnoted excerpts from a mix of fictionalized newspaper reports on the case and real reports pertaining to historical events--a mélange that lends the novel an eerie sense of verisimilitude. If Kathy's disappearance is at the heart of this work, then John's ...

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Tags

Books, Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Family Relationships, Read In 2011, Contemporary, Vietnam, Post Tramatic Stress Syndrome, Cafe Liber, Psuchology

Details

ISBN-10: 0140250948
ISBN-13: 978-0140250947
Author: Tim O'Brien
Publisher: Penguin

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