Anyone who is a fan of Oliver Stone's films already knows the role Vietnam has played in both his personal and public lives. He's made three films about the war and its aftermath: Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July,
and Heaven and Earth;
now he has also penned a novel that skirts the borders of autobiography--the hero, after all, is called Oliver. The novel grew out of three major experiences in young Oliver's life: his time as a civilian teacher in a Saigon Catholic school, his return to America aboard a merchant marine ship, and his eventual return to Vietnam as a soldier.
Stone originally wrote this novel in 1966 at the age of 19. In a fit of frustration and despair after numerous rejections from publishers, Stone "threw several sections of the manuscript into the East River one cold night, and, as if surgically removing the memory of the book from my mind, volunteered for the Vietnam of 1967." For many years, the remaining sections of the manuscript lay forgotten in a shoebox, until eventually Stone recovered them, rewrote the novel, and published it this year.
From Library Journal
Imagine a Sixties Holden Caulfield, with nothing to read but Kerouac and Burroughs, dropping out of Yale and into Vietnam, then returning home via a Conradian cargo ship. On film, this famous director's (JFK, The Doors) thudding, often hogwash ideas are forcefully elevated by a blunt, visceral energy. On paper, this debut novel is mostly the hogwash. Logy, derivative, and pretentious, it's a young man's scattershot work?Stone wrote it in 1966-67, then stored it until now in a shoe box, where it could have stayed. Once again, what's good therapy can make bad literature. Not recommended.-?David Bartholomew, NYPL
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