In the Lake of the Woods
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In the Lake of the Woods

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Description

A remarkable novel from the National Book Award-winning author of 'Going After Cacciato' and 'The Things They Carried', which combines the power of the finest Vietnam fiction with the tension of a many-layered mystery. In a remote lakeside cabin deep in the Minnesota forests, Kathy Wade is comforting her husband John, an ambitious politician, after a devastating electoral defeat. Then one night she vanishes, and gradually the search for Kathy becomes a voyage into the darkest corners of John Wade's life, a life of deception and deceit - the life of a man able to escape everything but the chains of his darkest secret.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 124 x 192 x 22mm | 281.23g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • FOURTH ESTATE LTD
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0006543952
  • 9780006543954
  • 52,922

Review quote

'Masterfully oblique, inventive and deeply unsettling...a riveting exploration of a tormented and wounded psyche' Sunday Times 'Calling Tim O'Brien a Vietnam War novelist is a bit like saying Joseph Conrad was a Polish guy who wrote some good sea tales' Esquire 'Striking, telling, deeply unsettling. A novel about the moral effects of suppressing a true war story, about the unforgiveable uses of history, about what happens when you try to pretend that history no longer exists' New York Times Book Review

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About Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien was born in Minnesota and served as a foot soldier in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970, and after graduate studies at Harvard worked as a reporter for the Washington Post. When 'If I Die in a Combat Zone' was published in 1973, it established him as one of the leading American writers of his generation, a status that was confirmed when 'Going After Cacciato' won the National Book Award for fiction.

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Review Text

O'Brien proves to be the Oliver Stone of literature, reiterating the same Vietnam stories endlessly without adding any insight. Politician John Wade has just lost an election, and he and his wife, Kathy, have retired to a lakeside cabin to plan their future when she suddenly disappears. O'Brien manages to stretch out this simple premise by sticking in chapters consisting of quotes from various sources (both actual and fictional) that relate to John and Kathy. An unnamed author - an irritating device that recalls the better-handled but still imperfect "Tim O'Brien" narrator of The Things They Carried (1990) - also includes lengthy footnotes about his own experiences in Vietnam. While the sections covering John in the third person are dry, these first-person footnotes are unbearable. O'Brien uses a coy tone (it's as though he's constantly whispering "Ooooh, spooky!"), but there is no suspense: The reader is acquainted with Kathy for only a few pages before her disappearance, so it's impossible to work up any interest in her fate. The same could be said of John, even though he is the focus of the book. Flashbacks and quotes reveal that John was present at the infamous Thuan Yen massacre (for those too thick-headed to understand the connection to My Lai, O'Brien includes numerous real-life references). The symbolism here is beyond cloying. As a child John liked to perform magic tricks, and he was subsequently nicknamed "Sorcerer" by his fellow soldiers - he could make things disappear, get it? John has been troubled for some time. He used to spy on Kathy when they were in college, and his father's habit of calling the chubby boy "Jiggling John" apparently wounded him. All of this is awkwardly uncovered through a pretentious structure that cannot disguise the fact that there is no story here. Sinks like a stone. (Kirkus Reviews)

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