Gods Go Begging

Vea, Alfredo

Published by Dutton, 1999
ISBN 10: 052594513X / ISBN 13: 9780525945130
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New York. 1999. Dutton. 1st Printing. Very Good In Dustjacket. 321 pages. September 1999. hardcover. Jacket design by Allison Saltzman. ISBN: 052594513x. inventory # 27064. FROM THE PUBLISHER - Jesse Pasadoble, a former infantry soldier who served his country with honor and courage, is now a defense attorney living in San Francisco. It was in Vietnam that Jesse learned to ‘hate death and to develop an almost anguished love of the living’ during a horrific siege in which he should have died but didn’t. For Jesse, the battle still rages: in his tortured memories; in the gang wars that are erupting on Potrero Hill; and now, in the cold-blooded execution of two women - one black, one Vietnamese - on the edge of a San Francisco ghetto. Jesse’s defense of the young man accused of the brutal double murder will take him back across the years and miles. Finding the truth will mean weaving together the disparate strands of his own haunted life, as the atrocities of the present day become inextricably linked with a battle that took place on a hilltop on the Laotian border two decades before. It is in this fragile link between the two worlds that Jesse dares to seek his own redemption. . Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: An exploration of the Vietnam War and its aftermath from a Mexican American soldier's perspective follows Jesse Pasadoble as he serves his country overseas, returns to a hostile America, and years later, copes with gang warfare in an American city

Review: One could argue that the war novel is an essentially timeless genre. Weapons are subject to long and increasingly lethal refinement--but from Homer's day to our own, the fear, fury, remorse, and anguish experienced on the battlefield have hardly changed a whit. Still, the stories told by Vietnam-generation novelists may differ in the telling. A writer like Alfredo Vea draws on a myriad of cultural and literary traditions to evoke the peculiar terrors of Vietnam--while invariably reflecting the outsider status of the soldiers who fought in the conflict. And for both of these reasons, his third novel, Gods Go Begging, is a remarkable work.

Vea begins his story in present-day San Francisco. The protagonist, Jesse Pasadoble, is a former Army sergeant who's now made a name for himself as a criminal defense attorney. Haunted by wartime memories, Pasadoble has found a way to channel his anguish: his impoverished clients remind him of his suffering comrades, and he seeks a compensatory justice for what he and his platoon lost.

Jesse hated death. He did not fear it, but he hated it with all of his heart and soul. A year and a half of incredible fear in the highlands of Vietnam had been transformed into an almost anguished love the living, intact moment, the moment that can never be possessed. Like many of the men who have witnessed the best and worst in themselves, who have been given a glimpse of the end of their lives at a very young age, he had lost the power to be lonely. The power had been replaced by something else: a soul sickness; a hunger for beauty, but only at a distance. Though he could not love his own life and the things within it, Jesse hated death.
His newest client is a 12-year-old boy, a child of the projects who's been charged with the brutal murder of two women. As the case unfolds, the barriers between past and present, America and Vietnam, erode and finally disappear. Meanwhile, Vea expertly marries the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez to his visceral accounts of battle. Indeed, whether we measure by the breadth of his imagination, the strength of his characters, or the hallucinatory power of his prose, there seems to be no novelistic terrain that Vea can't conquer. A chronicle of defeat and suffering, Gods Go Begging represents a paradoxical victory for the author--and, of course, for the reader. --Ted Leventhal

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Gods Go Begging
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good In Dustjacket

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V?a, Alfredo, Jr.
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