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In the Lake of the Woods

Tim O'Brien

ISBN 10: 0395488893 / ISBN 13: 9780395488898
Published by Houghton Mifflin
Hardcover
From Clayton Fine Books (Shepherdstown, WV, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Fine in near fine dust jacket. Signed by O'Brien on the title-page. The Penguin guide to In the Lake of the Woods is laid in. Bookseller Inventory # 5190

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Bibliographic Details

Title: In the Lake of the Woods

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Binding: Hard Cover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

John and Kathy Wade, whose marriage has been built on mutual deception, visit a Minnesota lake to try to sort things out, a difficult process made more difficult by Kathy's sudden disappearance. Major ad/promo. BOMC. First serials, Atlantic Monthly & Esquire. Tour.

Review:

Tim O'Brien has been writing about Vietnam in one way or another ever since he served there as an infantryman in the late 1960s. His earliest work on the subject, If I Die in a Combat Zone, was an intensely personal memoir of his own tour of duty; his books since then have featured many of the same elements of fear, boredom, and moral ambiguity but in a fictional setting. In 1994 O'Brien wrote In the Lake of the Woods, a novel that, while imbued with the troubled spirit of Vietnam, takes place entirely after the war and in the United States. The main character, John Wade, is a man in crisis: after spending years building a successful political career, he finds his future derailed during a bid for the U.S. Senate by revelations about his past as a soldier in Vietnam. The election lost by a landslide, John and his wife, Kathy, retreat to a small cabin on the shores of a Minnesota lake--from which Kathy mysteriously disappears.

Was she murdered? Did she run away? Instead of answering these questions, O'Brien raises even more as he slowly reveals past lives and long-hidden secrets. Included in this third-person narrative are "interviews" with the couple's friends and family as well as footnoted excerpts from a mix of fictionalized newspaper reports on the case and real reports pertaining to historical events--a mélange that lends the novel an eerie sense of verisimilitude. If Kathy's disappearance is at the heart of this work, then John's involvement in a My Lai-type massacre in Vietnam is its core, and O'Brien uses it to demonstrate how wars don't necessarily end when governments say they do. In the Lake of the Woods may not be true, but it feels true--and for Tim O'Brien, that's true enough. --Alix Wilber

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