Thursday, May 13, 2010
Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
by Karl Marlantes
Marlantes has poured his heart into this chronicle of a USMC Bravo company and its epic struggle on Matterhorn: an obscure hill turned Landing Zone in the middle of the western Vietnam jungle near Laos. The story centers on Second Lieutenant Mellas, a nineteen year old who has just begun his 13 month tour in country. The author, a Marine veteran of the Vietnam war himself, drags the reader through the bush; past leeches, tigers, dead kids, and Agent Orange. He steers us through dense jungle and up napalmed mountains. He immerses us in the race-segregated platoons of "junior Malcolm X's and redneck Georgia crackers"; Chucks and Splibs for short. He leads the reader on a quest to nowhere in search of nothing, all the way profoundly enlightening us to some of the darkest secrets of our modern history. Akin to the war stories and novels of Tim O'Brien, Matterhorn is one of the best books of the emerging decade.