Friday, June 06, 2008

Tree of Smoke - post IV

Do you ever come across those books where you have to read them in big chunks to get the pace right? This is one of those because reading it in 50-60 page chunks has left me wondering just what was going on. But getting through 100 odd pages today things became a lot clearer.

This is ultimately about a series of characters that intertwine and exist without knowledge of each other. What they all have in common is a connection with the Vietnam War but that is in the background more than the foreground for most of the characters.

The focus is still on the CIA agent Skip Sands but things are expanding with his Uncle, the woman he had a brief affair with in the Philippines and the younger of the Houston brothers all coming into a Vietnamese orbit.

There is a humour here with a host of extreme characters but there is also sadness at the strength of the belief in a certain ideal, something beyond the Kennedyesque, that is going to be shattered not just by the failure in Vietnam but by the way the US forces and people change in a culture of excess.

More tomorrow…

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