"To call Going After Cacciato a novel about war is like calling Moby-Dick a novel about whales."
So wrote The New York Times of Tim O'Brien's now classic novel of Vietnam. Winner of the 1979 National Book Award, Going After Cacciato captures the peculiar mixture of horror and hallucination that marked this strangest of wars. In a blend of reality and fantasy, this novel tells the story of a young soldier who one day lays down his rifle and sets off on a quixotic journey from the jungles of Indochina to the streets of Paris.
In its memorable evocation of men both fleeing from and meeting the demands of battle, Going After Cacciato stands as much more than just a great war novel. Ultimately, it's about the forces of fear and heroism that do battle in the hearts of us all.
©1999 Tim O'Brien (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"As a fictional portrait of this war, Going After Cacciato is hard to fault, and will be hard to better." (John Updike, The New Yorker)
"Simply put, the best novel written about the war. I do not know... any writer, journalist, or novelist who does not concede that position to O'Brien's Going After Cacciato." (Miami Herald)
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
"These were hard lessons, true, but they were lessons of ignorance: ignorant men, trite truths. What remained was a simple event. The facts, the physical things. A war like any war. No new messages. Stories that began and ended without transition. No developing drama or tension or direction. No order."
At the level of the grunt, the soldier, the dirt and the blood, who wouldn't want to run? Who wouldn't fantasize about just dropping everything and leaving the madness of war, the insanity of the Army, the brutality of killing and instead take an 8500+ mile trip to Gay Paree?
It seems a rational choice: to choose freedom, happiness, liberty. To say cut it, cork it and just run. Leave the swamps of uncertainty, death, and fear behind you. Become a refugee from the carnage of Vietnam. Seek to relocate your tired ass to a place where dumb muthers aren't trying to shoot you. Find some piece of Earth where you aren't sleeping in holes, crawling into tunnels, worrying about whether the bullet that gets you will be audible. Get the hell out of Dodge.
If that was the extent of this novel's vision, it would be a pretty damn good book, but O'Brien tweaks it. He doesn't go for the easy answers. For every tick he gives you a tock. He finds ambiguity everywhere, conflict over each hill. It isn't a simple moral point to stay or go, to fight or to run. War has its own reality. It will exhaust you and then follow up. This confrontation with fear, death, loyalty, morality, friendship, leading, following, is key. The key to this novel is conflict. The conflict is key.
With lyrical beauty, flashbacks, and a magical realism that I've never experienced in a novel about the Vietnam War, O'Brien spins a story that is just that: a yarn, a spin, a giant fantasy race, a road movie, a Moby-Dick, a Danse Macabre, a metaphysical and very modern dance. It is a story of the good, the bad; those who run and those who follow. It is a literary shadow sculpture built out of the debris of war, the stories and cast-offs (the living and the dead).
us about yourself! I'm a retired English teacher and ardent reader(more because of physical disability than from job).
Absolutely, because, despite its being a war story, the style is lyrical and the plot is intriguing..
This is a clever twist on a basic situation--desertion. What happens if the pursuers desert too? Plus it distorts reality just enough to drape the story in a gauze of magic.
His voice became so emotional that it was drippy.
I'd like to talk with Cacciato's Vietnamese girlfriend-wife. Maybe hearing her relaity would help to untangle the story of the actual desertion.
Tim O'Brien is a wonderful writer about war and soldiers trying to make sense of a particular morass.He adds magic to what must have been the grimest of realities.
As a story, it's near the top, though the production lets it down a bit.
There's a poignant level of mindfulness about what happened in Vietnam in this book, an attention to detail and character. O'Brien, like in his other books, has more questions than answers, questions both provoking and haunting. There are a few stories going on at once in "Going After Cacciato" and each of the layers is appealing and interesting. The narrative asks about war, "duty" and mission, finding good in awful circumstances, and why soldier's don't run.
I felt as if the voice performance brought a level of cartoonishness to the reading that was uneccesary and didn't match up with the subject matter. The voices Collins chooses for the characters, for example, are pretty poor. He just doesn't give the prose much flow, it's almost read as if it has the density of a poem - and while the writing is quite poetic at times, the reading is too choppy and "sing-song" for my liking.
Both reactions will happen, simultaneously and endlessly.
Complex, richly imagined war story with real characters, action, wrestling with the moral issues of the Vietnam war. O'Brien has read Heller, Voltaire, Bierce ("An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" ), and maybe Chaucer, but Cacciato is original work.
It's also one of those books that I believe is better heard than read, like Mrs. Dalloway.
Blind Vietnam veteran. Antique weapons collector. Outdoor enthusiast. Florida State University graduate with Business major. Owner of home health agency. registered nurse.
I did not read the print version of this book.
I would try another book by Tim O'Brien because he paints a good verbal picture.
Collin's performance was very good. I particularly liked his ability to emphasize the dramatic.
I want to listen to all books in one sitting.
The depiction of Vietnam was very good. I know. I was there. The story is a stretch. Still, it is a good read.
I thought this might be a riveting novel based upon early hype. It's not. I fell asleep so much I couldn't follow the thread. You HAVE to want to listen to this book.
He didn't have anything to work with and didn't do anything to help it.
That isn't the point. The book is a flop about Vietnam and the veterans who served and fought there.
Pick another book.
I love Vietnam books. I've been there, and I love Vietnam. I liked Apocalypse Now. This book, I just couldn't get in to.
There may have been a time when introspection regarding Vietnam and the was was fresh and novel, but that time has passed and we live in a new and different world.
I couldn't even finish listening to this, it was too drawn out and dreary.
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