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Paco Sullivan arrives in town penniless and job-hunting, the rain evaporating off the street forming "pungent steam so thick you would think his legs were cut off at the knees." In truth, the enigmatic Paco is indeed crippled. He is the sole survivor of an infantry company "pulverized to ash" in the Vietnam War. The methodical monotony of a dishwashing job in a diner offers some salve, though everyday things bring back savage memories. Heinemann's second novel--the first, Close Quarters, was based on his combat experience in Vietnam--is narrated through the collective voices of Paco's dead colleagues and offers a war veteran's envious and despairing view of the regular world. Paco's Story won the 1987 National Book Award.
When incoming fire lights up the sky over the good old boys at Fire Base Harriet in Vietnam, the tough soldiers just look at each other and settle in, certain that the nearly 100 of them will die. And all but one are visited by the descending brightness that tears their bodies apart. The ghost of one of these soldiers narrates the story of survivor Paco Sullivan, who lies covered with flies and dirt for two days before being rescued. Badly scarred and limping, he returns to the States and becomes an introspective dishwasher in a small Texas town. This is a well-written, ruminative work in an easy-going, down-home dialect that makes the awful memories of the warthankfullya little bit distant. Heinemann (Close Quarters has a promising talent, but his novel needs a sense of propulsion, not just excellent tales and fine dialogue; and his women should also be more than lusty objects of men's desires. As is, his work is just short of important.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.