In my generation - those of us who hit draft age right at the height of the war in the mid 1960s - we are divided between those who served in the military and those who did not. For the record, I had a draft deferment while in college, then in 1968, I dropped out and for about a year was prime-grade draft material with a 1A classification.
I was never called, though I have many amigos who were.
Tatjana Soli's The Lotus Eaters floods back memories from that time. The book is a combination documentary-drama-romance-potboiler that follows a woman photographer's personal and geographic journeys across Vietnam. The main character works as a journalist, so naturally my interest was piqued from the opening paragraphs. I stayed glued to it.
The book took Soli 10 years to write. Ten years! It makes my self-imposed book-writing deadline of April 1 seem pathetic. But the book's smacks of authenticity and research.
I haven't had the heart to start her second book yet - The Forgetting Tree. The person who recommended The Lotus Eaters to me said The Forgetting Tree doesn't show the same genius.
Then there is also the issue of whenever I read a book as powerful as The Lotus Eaters, I have to ponder what it means for some time before I can pick up another tome.
This is not a light book for the beach. But I suspect most people who read it will come away changed, whether they served in Vietnam or not, whether they were a journalist or not, or whether they have been in love.