1979 -- Going After Cacciato

In a 1984 interview, O'Brien tried to distinguish between his first book, If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home (1973), and his third, Going After Cacciato. Though fictional in some of its techniques, If I Die is autobiographical, a day-in-the-life memoir of O’Brien’s year in Vietnam. Going After Cacciato is a novel, and “the flip side of If I Die. That is, in Cacciato the premise I started with was, what if I had deserted?” Ultimately, he said in interviews, the second book is not even about that kind of war, and more a peace-finding mission:

I try to make both sides of it as convincing as I can, roughly because that’s how it was in my experience. On the one hand, “God, I sure should walk away from this war—hey, it’s wrong, it’s a wrong war, it’s evil.” I felt guilty. But the other half was saying, “God, you can’t do that, you’ve got everything else to think about. What if I am a coward? What about family? You’ve gone this far, you’re obliged to go the rest of the way.” It’s that sense of war that I’m trying to get at…. Internal war, personal war.

July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).