Going After Cacciato

Going After Cacciato

Paperback

By (author) Tim O'Brien

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  • Publisher: Flamingo
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 17mm | 315g
  • Publication date: 25 July 1991
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0006543073
  • ISBN 13: 9780006543077
  • Sales rank: 343,142

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Author information

Tim O'Brien was born in Minnesota and graduated from Macalester College in St Paul. He established himself as one of the leading writers of his generation in 1973 when he published 'If I Die In A Combat Zone', the compelling account of his own tour of duty in Vietnam and is widely regarded as the finest novelist the Vietnam War has produced.

Editorial reviews

It's hard not to be of two more or less uneasy minds about this ambitious book. O'Brien (If I Die In A War Zone, Northern Lights) has come directly to his subject - Vietnam - with great formal care and deep knowledge, and yet at least half the time it feels as if he's traveling in someone else's boots. In a fugue of fantasy chapters interspersed with astringently realistic flashbacks, Specialist Fourth Class Paul Berlin endures the life of a foot-soldier in Quang Ngai province; when a grunt named Cacciato - "dumb as a bullet" - one day picks up and sets off through the jungle, destination Paris, Berlin's patrol is sent after him. Fantasy takes over as, through Laos, India, Iran, Greece, and finally Paris, a dream of "possibility" and peace develops that could not be in greater contrast to the hell (in flashbacks) of normal war: the fragging of a by-the-book lieutenant, a medic feeding a dying soldier M&Ms and calling them "pills," desperate basketball games in the jungle. The revulsion, pity, and sheer documentary vividness O'Brien can draw from his real-Vietnam material is truly remarkable. But the fantasy journey and the Cacciato metaphor lack parallel strength: "The real issue was the power of the will to defeat fear. . . . Somehow working his way into that secret chamber of the human heart, where, in tangles, lay the circuitry for all that was possible, the full range of what a man might be." Such fustian/imitation-Hemingway tendencies rub up against balloony characters like a young Vietnamese refugee girl who accompanies the Quixote-like patrol on its mission to Paris and who seems more like an obligation to story than a deeply felt personality. "Where was the fulcrum? Where did it tilt from fact to imagination? How far had Cacciato led them?" Paul Berlin wonders - and so do we as we follow O'Brien through what's too often a large shell that unfairly shadows writing and intelligence of the highest order and honesty. (Kirkus Reviews)