Flowers of the Dinh Ba Forest

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9781931982306: Flowers of the Dinh Ba Forest

Fiction. In this novel of war, love, camaraderie, and betrayal Vietnam veteran Clark centers his plot around a search for a rare orchid in the height of the Vietnam War. As novelist and veteran Tim O'Brien has pointed out, the telling element in any true war story is that it doesn't make sense. Clark's characters--both Vietnamese and American, both men and women--are painfully aware that nothing seems to make sense in the war, that one might as well trek off in search of a deep jungle orchid.

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About the Author:

Robert David Clark was born and raised in a small town in central Iowa. In 1968 he was drafted into the Army and served a tour in Vietnam as an infantryman. In 1971 he enrolled at Minnesota State University, Mankato. While attending MSU he won the school's Robert C. Wright writing scholarship, and an Associated Writing Programs award for fiction. He has been published in Indiana Review, Highground Magazine, and Minnesota River review. Flowers Of The Dinh Ba Forest is his first published novel. He lives in Mankato, Minnesota with his two daughters.

From Booklist:

With several wars since that are easier to glorify, Vietnam novels have become rare. To succeed at all, they must be more than confessional or simply antiwar. Clark pays tribute to his many predecessors in an absurd series of scenes between an old first sergeant and a demon monkey that Joseph Heller might have written, as well as in the poignant tale of a new lieutenant who knows he is not fit for command and whose poor decisions cause a soldier to lose his arm. But Clark's real contribution to the Vietnam novel is to introduce a plot: two soldiers, wondering what in the world the war is about, decide it's about venturing into the jungle during the Christmas truce and capturing rare orchids to send home to an amateur botanist. They enlist the help of their chieu hoi--a VC who has defected to the Americans and serves as a scout. But operating also in the area is a brutal VC commander with a personal vendetta against the chieu hoi, and, through torture, he learns of the nutty American mission. He springs an ambush and one hell of a firefight ensues, followed by an almost unbearably suspenseful pursuit. Clark stumbles here and there, but this is a fine first novel. John Mort
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