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It's good you're reading this book - it's a favorite of mine (so, that alone makes it good). I agree that the language is unexpected, but within its context it works because it so beautifully captures the essence and feel of what was happening in a way that more plainly written journalism doesn't approach.

Most of all, I think, is that the writer understands that he is part of his stories - that he's not objective or removed. I think this traces a line through some of the best journalism to come, including Joe Sacco's amazing work. Keep on - it pays off in the end.


I think being familiar with "grunt language" helps as well. I can't even imagine what it would have been like to read this book without having watched a few Vietnam war movies before. Before finishing I rewatched Platoon and there are a lot of parallels. I think he contributed to the scriot, still, there is straigthforward story telling in Platoon.
I agree, I would also call this creative non-fiction or maybe even experimental nonfiction. As I said in my review, it gets easier.
I think it's a book deeply rooted in its time, style- and topic wise.
I'm almost tempted to re-read The Kool Aid Acid Test now. And I've never read On the Road.


Thanks so much for your comment--it has been helpful to stop and think about what I'm reading rather than let myself get discouraged by the style. I can see why it is a classic, but you are right the language has been unexpected. Also I am not as familiar with the war so references to battles and acronyms are tripping me up a bit, but I am not letting myself get bogged down too much in the details. Now I will have to look up Joe Sacco's work--he writes graphic novels, doesn't he? I think my library has some of his books so I will look into them.


Yes, I think knowing more of the colloquialisms would have been helpful. They really did have their own language--but I guess you have to start somewhere when you are learning. I don't even think I have watched any Vietnam movies--I am afraid they will be too graphic and hard to watch, so I rarely watch war movies of any kind. I may have to give some a try, however. I think you are right that he did help on the movie--there is a timeline in the EL edition which I glanced at and I seem to recall something about scriptwriting. The first part was a little frustrating for me, but now I am into the third part and there is some semblance of a narrative structure that makes it much easier to read. I'm looking forward to those last sections that you liked better. I have read On the Road (though I probably would get more out of it--stylewise--now than I did when I read it 20 years ago). I haven't read The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test--will check that out.


Vietnam war movies are all extremely graphic. Only The Deer Hunter is an exception and many of the Vietnam Veteran movies. My favourite is Jacknife.
The only one you could watch, it's pretty horrible but you don't see too much, is Born on the 4th of July. Apocalypse Now (based on Conrad's Heart of Darkness) would be possible too. The horror is more in the morale and the atmosphere, there are less graphic wounds. Herr contributed to that as well. But don't watch the Redux version. It's far too long.


Thanks for the suggestions. When a story is so emotionally wrenching I have a hard time watching it and war movies are inevitably like that. I can distance myself a bit from books when reading stories like that, but not so with movies! I'll add these to my Netflix queue--I forgot to reorder it so I still have a Christmas movie arriving today! Am ready for the new year, however and brighter horizons! Still reading Dispatches--it looks like it will carry over into 2013 unless I get in some very serious reading time today!


The book sounds good, but hard too. Vietnam is still such a central experience in the US and all its horrors still feel almost recent. Good luck finishing it. Even if you end up not liking it much at least you can feel like you learned a lot about the war, yes?


I think that is why I don't read much about Vietnam or later wars or watch movies about them. Even though I was really little--too little to even know what was going on--the idea that it all happened in my lifetime makes it hard to think about. It's a good read, difficult, but I am sure I am going to take away a lot from it when I do finish (which will be in 2013 now!).

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