More and more it is this sort of novel that attracts me. Not exactly crime novels but novels that chroncicle the lives of the sort of people who commit or become viictims of crimes. Books by Larry Watson, Willie Vlautin, Larry Brown.
DIRTY WORK is the debut novel from Mississippi writer, Larry Brown, and it seemed appropriate to read it around MemoriaL Day since it's about two vets. I picked it up a decade ago and just wish I had picked up more of them. I have RABBIT FACTORY around somewhere and will dig it out now.
Walter James and Braiden Chaney are two Vietnam Vets lying side by side in a Vet hospital 20 years after the war. Chaney has basically spent the entire time in a hospital since the war left him with no arms or legs. James is newly admitted with some sort of brain trauma from a bullet lodge in his head. He has also been badly scarred from his years in Vietnam.
The two men eventually trade war stories, but this book does much more than that. It painted the lives of the sort of men who couldn't dodge the war--the down and dirty life they led in northern Mississippi. Much of Chaney's thoughts are dream-induced and almost biblical in theme. Who could spend 20 years in a bed and not retreat to such a place?
The two men do a lot of drinking with the beer Chaney's sister smuggles in. They also smoke a lot of pot. Their stories are different and the same. It was men like these two who served in Vietnam and never recovered from it. They either died in body or died in spirit. An amazing and thought-provoking book.
What is your favorite book about Vietnam or its aftermath? Mine would be IN COUNTRY by Bobbie Ann Mason.