Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Falling Through the Earth

Wars shape lives, and even as we in the USA are beginning to deal with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, we're still absorbing the shock of the Vietnam War, Korea, and the Second World War, among others. Many vets come back changed drastically; others more subtly. Returning vets in turn change family dynamics, choices. In short, lives are upturned and the fallout can persist through generations.

War novels, memoirs and movies have been a staple of American culture for nearly a century; what's newer is a greater volume of work looking at war from girls' and womens' perspectives. With In Country (1985), Bobbie Ann Mason (b.5/1/1940, Kentucky) provides a gentle if sobering look at a young woman's relationships with older Vietnam veterans in rural Kentucky, where she grew up. The main character's father has been killed over there and her uncle, back home, can't function in society. They go on a pilgrimage to the DC Memorial, a recent phenomenon then.

More recently, there's an interesting memoir by Danielle Trussoni (b.11/9/1973, Wisconsin), Falling Through the Earth: A Memoir (2006), along similar lines. The author's father had served as a "tunnel rat," sneaking through tunnels on search and destroy missions against the Viet Cong. Growing up, Trussoni became obsessed with Vietnam, seeking to understand her father and his behavior at home. She visits Vietnam, visits tunnel complexes as a young adult, roams the country, tries to make sense of it all. And the results pay off: her book was selected as one of the ten best of 2006 by the New York Times.

Trussoni is also a founding member of The Memoirists Collective, a group that met online and formed together to support each other's work. Here's a link.

Today's Rune: Breakthrough.

The Battle of Dien Bien Phu, March 13-May 7, 1954.

Murder of Kitty Genovese, 1964.

Tam biêt!


Danny Tagalog said...

THe whole conceot of being a 'tunnel rat' makes me shudder. It sounds like Trussoni did what she had to do....

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I've read a lot of war novels and war histories but certainly not many by women. I need to expande my horizons.

Johnny Yen said...

I've read a couple of good ones-- Michael Herr's "Dispatches" and Phil Caputo's "A Rumor of War."

When I was watching Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" and kept realizing I'd heard a lot of the lines before. Later, I learned that Michael Herr was one of the writers.