Suddenly our focus is back to Vietnam books. My wife is reading Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes; I am reading Light Ruck by Tom LaCombe; we have ordered Wayne Karlin’s Wandering Souls: Journeys with the Dead and the Living in Viet Nam. My reading is to prepare for a group presentation titled “Vietnam, Home is Where You Dig It” with Tom and Wayne on April 25 in Kensington (www.dayofthebook.com – click on “Author Readings”). I am in the third chapter of Light Ruck and can’t wait to hear from Tom about how he could remember so much! Did he take detailed notes? Did he use letters that had been sent home? Did he rely upon conversations with other vets? I think Karlin’s book is nonfiction also, so mine — Cologne No. 10 for Men — will be the only fiction in the group.
Today the Washington Post reviewed Matterhorn. It is getting a lot of other good press, too. My wife has just started reading it, slower than her usual speed-reading mode — only on page 20 out of 566 plus maps, glossary, and chain-of-command charts. She understands a lot of terms and can relate to the locations; we were married about three months when I left for Viet Nam and spent R&R in Hawaii to celebrate our first anniversary just before I returned to the Tet offensive — she learned a lot from those many letters and reel-to-reel tapes. But she has used the glossary, the map, and the character charts which is not usually her reading style. Also, this is a novel about the Marines, not the Army — not as familiar.