VETERAN'S DAY: A VietNam Memoir by Rod Kane

VETERAN'S DAY: A VietNam Memoir

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This account of a medic's tour of duty in Vietnam utilizes a stream-of-consciousness, ultrarealistic narrative technique that leaves the reader confused as to which parts are real and which are hallucination. While Kane is obviously attempting to reflect his state of mind during battle and over the course of his subsequent 20-year struggle with anger and guilt, the effort is practically unreadable. A nongraduating member of the class of '64, Kane joined the army to ensure that he could become a paratrooper like his uncle Paul. ""When [Uncle Paul] came back he couldn't tie his shoes. He always had a cigarette in his mouth. He died soon after I met him."" Although Kane hearkens back to his uncle repeatedly, the sense of hero worship is never clearly conveyed--Kane simply reiterates that the man smoked Hit Parades. And when Kane seems most desperate to express himself, he lapses into a kind of mannered macho talk: ""Well, I ain't dead yet and I'm going back to the States tomorrow. In one piece. The way it's supposed to be. Like in the movies. Everyone believes it will happen to them. It happens to me. I'm lucky."" The book continues with his problems adjusting to the real world over the years: his problems with relationships, drugs, alcohol, suicide, violence. He attends group therapy sessions in an attempt to retrieve himself from the brink of destruction. The narrative culminates with the mass reunion of veterans in 1986 and the erecting of the wall in Washington, D.C. While writing the book may have been meaningful therapy, it adds little to our understanding of the plight of the Vietnam veteran.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Orion/Crown