- Curtis Dawkins, BULL Men's Fiction
All three stories recognize pain and estrangement and even violence as part of the quotidian. Explosions and shooting are not cathartic, and the book doesn't hang the whole Vietnam War on one individual's experience. Rather, Boatwright creates a many-voiced work in which more people live than die, and damage is as everyday as aging. It is about repercussions of events forty, thirty, and twenty years ago, but you feel the march of time into today, and the continuation of struggle and hope.
-- Meredith Sue Willis, Books for Readers
All three novellas in Collateral Damage are wonderful stories, and I like the way they are connected. The first is a great exploration of the damage that war can do even when people haven't gone to war. The second is a painfully realistic depiction of how members of a family so often avoid talking about the very things that are happening to them. My favorite was the third, since Hanoi is my favorite city, and the story is so closely bound up with the experience of emerging Vietnam. "
-- John Merson, author of War Lessons
These are engrossing stories told with considerable artistry, full of recognition and sympathy.
-- Diane Johnson, author of Le Divorce
Once started, it was hard to put down- each story is written with acute understanding and empathy, as Boatwright connects the three stories across different time periods and cultures. I imagine that these tales will also resonate with those who were affected by the recent Iraqi/Afghan wars as well; the principles are the same no matter which conflict is written about.
-- Joseph L. Annamura, The Thugbrarian Review
From the Author
The impetus to write this book goes back to a snowy day in 1968, when I received a letter from one of my high school friends telling me that he had attempted suicide rather than go to Vietnam. I was shocked and, at the same time, not shocked. My older brother had just been sent to fight in the war. My younger brother was worried about the draft. All the young men I knew were struggling with how to handle the first big decision of their adult lives--and it was a very big one--whether to follow the dictates of law or conscience and to face the consequences either way. We young women--their sisters, friends, and lovers--were on the sidelines of this moral conflict, but we were also deeply touched by it, and all of our lives were shaped by it.
I wrote the first version of "Getting Out" when I was a graduate student at Columbia University in 1970. At that time, the wars in South-East Asia and at home were raging, and young people were dying on both fronts. The second and third sections, set at key points in the post-war years, began as short stories. The idea of a "triptych" came about when a friend asked me what I wanted to write next, and I realized it was this book about the broad and lasting impact of the war.
Although the draft ended in the U.S. in 1973, each new war brings up the same questions: what is justified and when, who will fight and why, and will any good come out of it in the end?
Alice K. Boatwright