The novel by Scibona is a difficult one to understand and really enjoy. The author utilizes an almost stream of consciousness writing style which I must indicate does not work for this novel.
It touches on four generations of men; their pathways through life and the horrors of the war in Vietnam as it affects one of them. Vollie Frade is met at a point where almost on a whim to escape a bad home situation enlists in the Marine Corps. This is just in time to be sent to Vietnam where he witnesses the horrors of that war. On a second tour he is captured in Cambodia where American forces are not supposed to be. He is held in horrible conditions in prison with two other men and becomes the only survivor to escape and return home. This imprisonment does affect him through the remainder of his life.
In a similarity to Winston Groom’s novel “Forrest Gump” major events around the world are depicted during the course of the story and integrated into the story line. Unfortunately, I found that I could not retain an interest in the book due to the myriad of shifts and characters introduced with little or no interconnection.
3/19 Paul Lane
THE VOLUNTEER by Salvatore Scibona. Penguin Press (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0525558521. 432p.