I want to know why this novel hasn't been purchased by a large publishing house and mass marketed. Paul Clayton put his heart and soul into the writing of this book, yet somehow managed to keep enough distance from his subject to allow him to craft his work with dispassion and objectivity. Clayton served in Vietnam, and maybe there are more than a few autobiographical incidents in this novel. The prose borders on being minimalist, especially the dialogue, and that's what really works in Clayton's favor as he depicts the every day existence of what it was really like to be a grunt in Nam. (In some ways his writing style reminds this reader of Raymond Carver). The tone is serious, the characters very real. The protagonist, Carl Melcher, is just an ordinary, average citizen soldier that comes to Vietnam to fulfil his obligation to Uncle Sam. Along the way he makes friends and loses friends. It's a great coming of age novel in that Melcher also loses his innocence. An endearing character due to his naivete and willingness to accept his fellow grunts on their own terms, Melcher ends up being just another emotional casualty by the time he gets back to the "world." I am a high school teacher and would love to have a set of this novel in our bookroom. If the cost were not prohibitive, I'd buy a class set myself. I can see high school students eating this up. The language, the dialogue, and the logical flow of events carry you along effortlessly, and when you finish, you're left with a whole lot to think about. Thanks for serving, Paul, and thanks for writing this powerful little book.