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Book Title: Paco's Story|
The author of the book: Larry Heinemann
ISBN 13: 9780140127614
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 411 KB
City - Country: No data
Edition: Penguin Books
Date of issue: November 1st 1989
Loaded: 1399 times
Reader ratings: 4.5
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The writing mesmerized me while much of the content repulsed me. The language was absolutely musical with its rhythm and assonance. The descriptive passages were pure poetry from a lengthy discussion of menu styles to the contents of a small town hardware store. Paco is a Vietnam vet drifting across America. We watch him for a few months while he is living in a cheap motel washing dishes at a little diner. He is doped up on pills and liquor to mute the brutal pain that cripples his body and psyche. The story is told by a ghost that hovers near Paco, one of his dead platoon mates. He narrates both Paco’s story as well as that of the medic who found him, the tattooed soldier, Gallagher, the self-destructive young girl who spies on him and so many more. We are asked to watch the gang rape of a Vietnamese teenaged girl and an old Eastern European jeweler talking to his long dead wife through the same lens of gorgeous and vulgar prose. This is a violent, haunting novel, deserving of its awards, but uncomfortable to read.
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Read information about the authorLarry Heinemann (born 1944) is an American novelist born and raised in Chicago. His body of work is primarily concerned with the Vietnam War. Mr. Heinemann served a combat tour in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968 with the 25th Infantry Division, and has described himself as the most ordinary of soldiers. Mr. Heinemann's military experience is documented in his most recent work, Black Virgin Mountain (2005), his only nonfiction piece. Black Virgin Mountain also chronicles his return trips to Vietnam and his blunt personal and political views concerning the country and the war. He has often referred to his books about Vietnam as an accidental trilogy.
While serving in Vietnam, Mr. Heinemann fought in a battle near the Cambodian border in which filmmaker Oliver Stone also participated. Mr. Heinemann writes of the battle in his first novel, Close Quarters (1977), and in Black Virgin Mountain, and it also forms the basis for the climactic battle scene in Stone's Platoon.
His fictional prose style is uncompromisingly harsh and honest, and reflects his working class background. His second and critically acclaimed novel is Paco's Story (1986), which won the 1987 National Book Award for Fiction, topping Toni Morrison's Beloved in a decision that some thought controversial. At the time, Mr. Heinemann's only response to the controversy was that the prize, a check for $10,000, was already cashed, and that the Louise Nevelson sculpture, a gift from the National Book Foundation, was not likely to be returned. Paco's Story relates the quasi-picaresque postwar experiences of its titular protagonist, who is haunted by the ghosts of his dead comrades from the war. These ghosts provide the novel's narrative voice. The story deals with the role of the American GI as both victim and victimizer. It is interesting to note that ghost stories are common in both American and Vietnamese literature about the war.
His third novel, Cooler by the Lake (1992), departed from the topic of Vietnam and was not very successful, either critically and commercially.
Mr. Heinemann's short stories and non-fiction have appeared in Atlantic Monthly, GRAPHIS, Harper’s, Penthouse, Playboy, and Tri-Quarterly magazines, as well as Van Nghe, the Vietnam Writers Association Journal of Arts and Letters in Hanoi, and numerous anthologies including The Other Side of Heaven, Writing Between the Lines, Vietnam Anthology, Best of the Tri-Quarterly, Lesebuch der Wilden Manner, The Vintage Book of War Stories, and most recently Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace edited by Maxine Hong Kingston. His work has been translated into Dutch, German, French, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Heinemann learned the craft of writing at Columbia College, Chicago which he attended from 1968 to 1971. In 1971 he began teaching creative writing at Columbia, a position he held until 1986, the year Paco's Story was published.
He has received literature fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2002-03 Mr. Heinemann was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to research Vietnamese folklore, legends, and mythology at Hue University.
Mr. Heinemann is currently the Visiting Writer-in-Residence at Texas A&M University.
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