THE AARDVARK IS READY FOR WAR by James W. Blinn

THE AARDVARK IS READY FOR WAR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An antic, abrasively obscene, and extremely noisy first novel that attempts to do for the Persian Gulf War what M.A.S.H. and Catch-22 did for (or, if you will, to) the Korean War and WW II. The narrator, identified only as ``Greg,'' is a Navy airman specializing in tracking submarines who adopts the code name Aardvark. His real interests lie in capturing the screwy vicissitudes of everyday military life with his ``camcorder,'' and saturating himself in the intricate technological shoptalk of a war whose reality seems contained in TV images. Blinn recounts his likable nonhero's picaresque adventures (mixing it up stateside with a married buddy, hunkering down in Hawaii with a female literature major who despises Dead White Males) with a rough, slangy vigor that's great fun whenever his paragraphs aren't clogged with wearying technical detail. The disparity between Aardvark's flip intimacy with the carnage he monitors (while aboard an aircraft carrier heading toward the Mideast) and the very real terror that overtakes him when he's about to be thrust headlong into military action, isn't especially original, except for his wired, frantic, funny voice. The best things here are the impudent mockery of military logic (``Why practice anti-submarine warfare when the bad guys don't have subs?'') and the fresh comic invention (a pair of old ladies overheard discussing their favorite serial killers; an imitation-American fast food joint that advertises ``Dessert Storm Combos--Patriot burgers and Smart Bomb fries''). The novel's worst features--which, unfortunately, predominate--are its numerous echoes of Catch-22, which include its protagonist's flustered efforts to avoid combat, a comrade's surprising descent into murder and madness, a ship's doctor who calls himself ``Daneeka,'' and a bloody, surreal climax. Joseph Heller may not want to sue, but he won't want to finish the book either. Though this debut has both style and energy, it lacks the savage originality of the predecessors Blinn so clearly admires. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 7th, 1997
ISBN: 0-316-09987-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1997