Sunday, October 14, 2012

In The Lake of The Woods

I just finished a really great book.
Tim O'Brien's [1994] In The Lake of the Woods.
An oldie but a goodie!
This is the sixth book I've read by this terrific American writer, and truly, this is one of the best. I have a few yet to go before I can say I've read all of his published works, but I will definitely continue reading him.
O'Brien, a Vietnam veteran himself, often employs elements of the trauma of war in his novels. And this one is no exception.

John Wade is a Minnesota politician [and Vietnam vet… participant in the massacre at My Lai] who has just recently been trounced in a senatorial election. He and his wife Kathy retreat to a friend's cottage in a remote lake area to lick their wounds and re-think the future.
But one morning John wakes to find that his wife is gone.
Vamished. Vamoosed. And the boat is missing from the boathouse.
As you can imagine, a massive search for her is initiated, but we're talking about 600 square miles of lake here. The vast, unforgiving remoteness of Minnesota wilderness.
As expansive as that wilderness is, it pales in comparison to the depths of secrecy with which John has been living his life. Some of these secrets, unearthed by the media, become known. Others remain hidden, and John himself becomes a suspect in the disappearance of Kathy.
The set-up of this novel is so unique, I do not want to say much more about it -- but encourage you to discover it for yourself. Truly a story of open-endings, rife with the searing difficulties of love and marital relationship.
I really think the book is significant. After reading In The Lake of the Woods, I am left with a rather powerful feeling of how we can only really truly know our own self. And even then, the knowing can be blurry. Thing is, even so, no one else can know you BETTER!

And now, as I pour a fresh beer into my Duvel glass, I glance at what I am going to be reading next.
Again, more water… definitely even MORE water!
Moby [frigging] Dick!
I've been wanting to read this whopper-doodle of a thing for ages, and knowing the non-speed with which I read, you can look forward to a review somewhere in 2013!
Cheers, y'all.



Stefanie said...

This is the only O'Brien book I've read but I liked it so I don't know why I haven't read any others. I read it way back in the late 90s, ancient pre-blogging days, but I still recall the scene where he poured hot water into all the plants. Of all the parts of the book I don't know why that scene haunts me, but there it is.

Anonymous said...

Your homie read Moby(friggin') Dick so if a frenchie can wade through it in what was for him record time then you should be ok to finish it this year.
Good luck,

Booksnyc said...

I have The Things They Carried on my shelf but haven't brought myself to read it. I know he is a gifted writer so I hope to read it someday soon!

Cipriano said...

Stefanie -- that scene was haunting indeed! I felt it! But then, the speculation [the "hypothesis"] that he did the same to his wife, that is just horrid.

"C" -- this is encouraging. Thank you. And say Hi to my homie for me!

Booksnyc -- Oh, I do think you should take that book off your shelf and read it. Few books make me cry, but that one did.