Books by Gustav Hasford

A GYPSY GOOD TIME by Gustav Hasford
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 1992

Dowdy Lewis, Jr., half owner of a Hollywood bookstore specializing in the Old West, is an alcoholic and self-pitying Vietnam vet, and has the misfortune to fall for a dish named Yvonna Lablaine, who works for a cheapo movie producer named Bird Cameron. Yvonna soon ends up charged with murder and then herself dead—and Dowdy plunges into the netherworld of heroin addiction, snuff films, and movie-biz greed in search of the truth. Ah, if only Hasford (The Short-Timers, 1979, etc.) had left this as the B-movie-treatment it has all the earmarks of having originally been. But he's gone ahead and prosed it out—and what prose! Says Dowdy to a bailbondsman: ```I'm not going to argue with you. I'd draw you a picture, but I don't have the time. Some people are like cheap television sets. Some people need to be thumped on the side of the head until they get the picture.''' And then there's Dowdy's ``wisdom'': ``The losing card is in all of our decks and sooner or later we have to lay it on the table. Just when you think your cold deck is getting warmer, fate starts dealing seconds from the bottom of a stacked deck of marked cards.'' And after being a one-man terminator at the book's pathologically gruesome revenge finale, Dowdy (who, me?) comes up for air at Yvonna's funeral to muse that ``one night of beauty shared gives you the strength to sleep one thousand nights alone.'' Where's Hasford's sharp talent, evidenced by The Short-Timers? Certainly not here, in this classically awful, unintentionally hilarious, hard-boiled rotten egg. Read full book review >
THE SHORT-TIMERS by Gustav Hasford
Released: Jan. 3, 1978

The Vietnam War is starting to deliver: Herr's non-fictional Dispatches found the peculiar character of writing that this creepy conflict seems to require—and Hasford, in a first, autobiographical novel, husks it right down to the kernel. The narrator, a Marine combat correspondent nicknamed "Joker," does his hitch during the Tet offensive and is involved in the out-and-out decimation of Hue. One street operation involves a girl VC sniper who picks off haft of Joker's patrol: the only way to get her is to have a tank blast the building down from beneath her. When she's finally found and killed, one of the grunts cuts off her feet and drops them into a plastic shopping bag full of feet: souvenirs. Hasford's artistry makes this incredible event seem almost logical, and again and again he does it—a rat-burning party, an ambush near Khe Sanh—the horror and noise seems to stick in your throat like something sharp but inevitable. Only the redemption of "short-time"—days left to go in this hell—keeps the grunts sane, a terrible and hopeless clock. A terse spitball of a book, fine and real and terrifying, that marks a real advance in Vietnam war literature. Read full book review >