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Bestseller Swofford explores teenage love in his uneven first novel, which opens in 1989 at Yokata Air Base outside Tokyo (the title comes from the name of a nearby train stop). Severin Boxx, a 17-year-old military brat, plays football and pines for Virginia Sachiko Kindwall, the half-Japanese daughter of the American base commander, who's also his coach. Virginia's involvement in some not-so-petty crime (her heroine is Faye Dunaway of Bonnie and Clyde) leads her into serious trouble, which separates the young lovers seemingly forever. Swofford, as one might expect from the author of the acclaimed Jarhead (2003), his memoir of being a Marine sniper in the first Gulf War, clearly knows the U.S. military culture, though some readers may find his view of it overly harsh. He also does a good job of depicting the strange mélange where Japanese and American cultures coexist, but he's less convincing in his portrayal of Boxx's adult life (and doomed marriage) in San Francisco, while the ending is much too neat to be truly compelling. 7-city author tour. (Jan.)
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In Jarhead (2003), Swofford, a former marine, compellingly chronicled his experiences in the first Gulf War. In his first novel, he appears to draw on his upbringing as an air-force dependent. Seventeen-year-old Severin Boxx is a straight-arrow football player who lives on Yokota, the U.S. Air Force base just outside Tokyo. He is in love with Virginia Kindwall, who fantasizes that she is Bonnie Parker and robs convenience stores. Virginia's father, the base general, is Severin's football coach. When Virginia tries to recruit Severin for a life of crime, he refuses to join her, but the intensity of this brief encounter is enough to bind them together for life. The book starts off strongly, setting Severin's dilemma against the uneasy, and vividly depicted, symbiosis between base and city, and the heady emotions of youth seem perfect for this intersection of worlds. But when we meet Severin and Virginia as adults, the book loses its momentum, and when they meet again, the book loses its way. Is it about reconciling with authoritarian fathers? The possibility of recapturing first love? Our inability to escape the past? The difficulty of living in two worlds? Ultimately, Swofford is much better at rendering unfamiliar worlds (military bases, criminal life) than familiar ones (college campuses, relationships). Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I chose this title to read with my book group for this month. Left it to the last minute to read and so had to read it in one day and part of one evening. Read morePublished on June 2, 2011 by snowday
This is a review of the audio edition of the book.
I felt that the voice acting added a great deal to the characters and to the story told - much of the book doesn't... Read more
Yes, take your place amongst America's very finest writers for this is as good as it gets. There is something exhilarating about being so in thrall to a writer's skill at plot and... Read morePublished on July 10, 2009 by Jonathan Posner
the first third of the book (part 1) was enjoyable to read and i thought the remainder of the book would be equally as enjoyable but it is unfortunate that it was not. Read morePublished on December 18, 2008 by Akira Touya
I only finished this novel so that I could write an full and honest review about it. You may notice that this book doesn't come in paperback. There's a reason for that... Read morePublished on November 3, 2007 by G.L.Kirkland
The Virginia character is not likable, so I did not really care about her. I agree with another review that the believability of a story line is important. Read morePublished on June 25, 2007 by K. ONeill
If you're looking for a spoiled rich kid's story you've come to the wrong place. There is no Holocaust tie-in, no sex abuse, no prep schools and no shrinks. Read morePublished on June 4, 2007 by CGombar
I was disappointed with this novel. After coming close to giving up on it twice, I stuck it out, but was not rewarded in the end. Read morePublished on June 2, 2007 by chp
Ever since "Jarhead" I have loved Anthony Swafford's writing style. Being a Marine and living in Japan also helped me fall in love with this book since I relate to it so much.Published on May 30, 2007 by Drew L. Wright