A River In May, Edward Wilson (2002)

9162278Uniquely and powerfully done war novel.  Wilson delivers what is quite clearly an autobiographically informed Vietnam War novel.  Set apart from all the rest of the classic soldering narratives of the mud, the blood, the drugs— 13th Valley, Dispatches, other greats, joined more recently by Matterhorn.  Wilson anticipates the more recent literary renderings of confusion, espionage, and which side were you on in the jungle?— The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen and Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. Lopez, our protagonist is a Mexican American Harvard grad, trained right up by the  Army, swiftly sent to unit leadership at a way north Khe-Sahn type “Hill.”  The wonder of the writing is how Wilson, keeps the point of view strictly through the eyes of Lopez. Seeing only what he— a self identified humanitarian moralist we are convinced,  sees and hears brings us along as he takes action, ultimately, against evil and in defense of innocents. Cooperation with NLF infiltrators in his unit to enable Viet Cong fighters, some how seems, in the end, a reasonable course of action for our hero.

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