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The Things We Do to Make It Home Paperback – September 1, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the decades since the end of the Vietnam War, American writers of all stripes have staked out that cataclysmic conflict as a subject for literature. Tim O'Brien, Michael Herr, Ron Kovic, David Rabe--the list of authors who have rendered men and war is long and impressive; the fact that there's nary a woman among them is perhaps not surprising, as combat is, for the most part, a male activity. But men weren't the only ones affected by Vietnam--for every soldier in a rice paddy, there was a mother, a sister, a lover back home; when their men came back changed by the experience of war, life changed for the women, as well. In her impressive debut novel, Beverly Gologorsky skillfully depicts the lives of three returned veterans and the women who love them. The story begins in 1973, shortly after Rooster, Frankie, Nick, Sean, Rod, and Jason return home from Vietnam, and it's obvious something's not quite right.

Waiting for his girlfriend, Millie, to dress for a party, Rooster can't sit still.

He counts twenty-two steps from the bedroom door to the end of the living room.... She doesn't like him barging in while she's dressing. She says that he's got to give her some privacy. Soon there'll be thunder, lightning. He begins snapping his fingers. Twenty-two steps. He turns, fixes his eyes on the door. Twenty-two steps. Hey, baby, anchors need to be close to their boats.
All of the men in Gologorsky's book are damaged goods and all the women do their best to patch them up, with mostly disappointing results. What elevates this novel above your run-of-the-mill tale of dysfunction and heartache is Gologorsky's unsentimental yet compassionate rendering of all her characters, both male and female. Though the plot is occasionally thin, the pain and passion carry you through. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

After a quick nod to Tim O'Brien, the title of this vivid, unsentimental Vietnam novel locates its center right at "home." Veterans?"Men in trailers, tents, trucks, cars.... Men in tattered coats, stained pants, worn fatigues...."?and their girlfriends, children and wives inhabit the troubled domestic spaces of Gologorsky's debut. The novel opens at a party in 1973, where a group of vets just back from battle try to reacclimate to civilian life. The festivities are thin disguise for the damage they have suffered, though, as their wives and girlfriends perceive immediately. The plot then skips ahead more than 20 years to examine the long-term effects of the war on the intertwined but unraveling lives of its American victims. One man has literally driven himself to death; two have abandoned their families to become street people; one is dying of Agent Orange-associated cancer; and yet another suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease. Unfortunately, the sheer number of characters somewhat diminishes the narrative momentum of Gologorsky's otherwise moving story. What is gained in the novel's breadth of scope, however, is the opportunity to see these people in all their seasons: bewildered, grieving, bitter and tenderly in love. This perceptive, compassionate account of the long-term effects of the Vietnam disaster on American life are succinctly summed up by one of the characters: "We've been falling down dead for 25 years." Agent, Melanie Jackson.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583228845
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583228845
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,152,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books I've read. It is beautifully written with spare dialogue--not an unnecessary word in the book. I wouldn't limit it to the boomer generation, but those of us old enough to remember the war, and its effects on our friends--will be moved by the stories of these characters--the loyalty of the comrades, and the anguish of the women, left outside. It blew me away, yet left me with hope.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "farina" on January 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
A novel about the women who live with Vietnam vets. However, this is not a book about war. It is a book about what it means to live with men who in one way or another are not able to return love in ways that women need. Very poignant. Kept me reading until the last page. Don't miss it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
For so long war has been described from a male point of view. In this warm, loving novel, we hear about Vietnam through the eyes of the women who live with Vietnam vets. These women are unforgettable and the stories they relate are both sad and uplifting. This is a book worth reading more than once.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
For so long war has been described from a male point of view. In this warm, loving novel, we hear about Vietnam through the eyes of the women who live with Vietnam vets. These women are unforgettable and the stories they relate are both sad and uplifting. This is a book worth reading more than once.
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