Winters Coming, Winters Gone: There Were Other Tragedies, Besides Dying in Vietnam

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9780312959630: Winters Coming, Winters Gone: There Were Other Tragedies, Besides Dying in Vietnam

The Marines portrayed in Winter's Coming, Winters Gone might have been the kids who lived on your block. But the treacherous jungle war marked them, and estrangement at home set them apart. Winter's Coming, Winters Gone is a tale of betrayal and broken promises, in Vietnam and America. It is also a story of reconciliation.
            The novel depicts US Marines assigned to live in a remote Vietnamese hamlet:
            Outside, the sun was below the level of the windows and the light filtering in was rose-colored and soft, and they could hear the banter of Li's neighbors, and the quick, high squeal of a hog... soon the peasants would lower their shutters and light lamps or candles. The hamlet would fold up like a curled and sleeping hound, one ear pricked for the fox.
            The book traces an ever-shifting war policy that, at first, brought the Marines and Vietnamese together as friends - only later to make them enemies.
            The reader follows two of the survivors home. David Schrader, a Missouri farm boy whose life is irrevocably changed. Mingo Calderone is a Texas Chicano struggling to reconcile the war with his own heritage:
            ...Mingo plunged heart and soul into stopping the war, and the effort sustained him. But Schrader was not so resolute. His mind was awash with images of violence - a tide that would swell to prominence and then recede, swell and recede in kaleidoscopic rhythm - for a moment as sharply etched as bodies tumbling in the flarelight, and another moment as blurred and indistinct as grief could color it...
            At any time, on any day, he could close his eyes and be back in the jungle. He could smell the decay and feel it brushing his skin. American boys were still dying there, his brothers everyone. It was bitter gall in Schrader's throat.
            Calderone and Schrader live a life on the edge, in a world of junkies, drug dealers, and violence, carving their niche in the only place they feel at home. It is only when a near tragedy brings Schrader to the brink of disaster that he is forced to confront his own capacity for violence and accept his role in the war.
            Winter's Coming, Winters Gone begins in Vietnam, carries the reader through the turbulent anti-war period, and concludes in Austin, Texas.

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From the Back Cover:

Of the making of books about war there'll be no end--and the heaviest shadow out of the recent past comes from Vietnam, stretching from Robert Stone's 1974 Dog Soldiers and Michael Herr's 1977 Dispatches to this first novel by ex-Marine Glick, veteran of two years' combat there.
Originally published by the Eakin Press of Austin, Texas, several years ago, the novel is in three sections: Vietnam, 1966-67; Miami, Florida, 1972; Austin, Texas, 1979. Each section dramatizes a part of Missouri farm-boy David Schrader's life.
Most powerful, dynamic in its prose descriptions, extraordinarily vivid and effective in battle scenes from first ambush to last withdrawal, the Vietnam section shows how Schrader becomes a fighting man and a sympathetic friend to Li, ex-Viet Minh soldier and now village farmer. Glick writes with authority and honesty, often with a narrative line of great dramatic strength. He has both the memory and the talent to inhabit a soldier's mind; so, good as depictions of the Vietnamese are, portraits of the Marines, especially in action, are even better: "Mingo's gaze jumped from a long brown stick to a glint of rock to a place where the grass was matted down. All of it went through his brain and was recognized and rejected and he went on looking about. A mongoose streaked across his path and he jumped. Then the Viet Cong on the hill cut loose."
At the Deomocratic Convention in Miami, Schrader, with a group of veterans against the war, polices protesters, preserves order even as the FBI begins its merciless and ruthless campaign against the vets.
In Texas, Schrader works the bar in a strippers' nightclub, and with his buddy Mingo gets into a hassle with local cops. (Again, there are a couple of gripping action scenes.) Meanwhile, Schrader is sleeping with Jessie irregularly, can't decide to settle down. All ends happily, however, after drug-busting Schrader eats a bit of mushroom and spends a solitary night in the desert, then meets Jessie at the hospital where, with Mingo, they watch and help Mingo's wife give birth to a daughter.
Glick's political philosophizing is conventional and his plotting is sentimental, but his action writing in the first section here is honest and original. Glick knew the war.
Though the book is incomplete, we haven't had anything so straightforwardly good on Vietnam as its first part.

From the Inside Flap:

"Winter's Coming, Winters Gone is an absolutely riveting story that gives the reader an opportunity to see part of the Vietnam War from the disparate points of view of a Vietnamese village and a Marine squad. It's a rare and exciting contrast of attitudes that have been lacking in most novels about the war; a contrast that Allen Glick weaves among some of the most gripping battle scenes I've ever read. The author then follows two survivors of the squad as they attempt to resume life back home. This part is equally powerful, portraying their trials so clearly and humanely that the effect is nothing less than enlightening.

Allen Glick's powerful writing style convincingly reveals a deep and hard-won understanding of the Vietnam veteran experience. This is a book you may never forget." - Robert Mason, Chickenhawk

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