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In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien

In the Lake of the Woods (1994)

by Tim O'Brien

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2,128653,075 (3.81)101
  1. 00
    Dispatches by Michael Herr (hazzabamboo)
    hazzabamboo: Dispatches was the central source for the film Apocalypse Now. It's non-fiction, but it conveys the hallucinatory horror of the Vietnam War in the same way as O'Brien's novel.
  2. 00
    Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane (Ciruelo)
    Ciruelo: Both novels are told in fragments, setting is critical to the tone of each, and finally both deal with the themes of love, guilt, memory, truth, and murder.

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So very well written that you begin to accept that these events, or perhaps something very similar, have probably happened a time or two. Everyone has hidden places buried deep and Tim O'Brien explores those places inside John Wade in this terrific mystery. Two things I really liked. First, how the Lake of the Woods metaphorically sums up those hidden places. Second, how the phrase "one plus one equals zero" so perfectly describes the whole book. I loved it. ( )
  5hrdrive | Jun 2, 2017 |
The protaganist of this book had an unhappy childhood and developed techniques to distance himself from what was happening. These practices served him well when he served a tour in Viet Nam, and enabled him to store that experience away when he got home. When her returns from the war he marries his college girlfriend, and enters State politics where he has a series of successes. The novel centers on what happens when reality intrudes on his self made world. I don't want to include any spoilers, and knowing what sets off the events in the novel isn't as important as what happens afterwards. It is a well written book with an interesting structure. It focuses on the protaganist coming to terms with himself and with his wife, who had knowingly gone along with his act of self creation without really understanding who her husband really was. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
It's not the type of book I would normally read, but it's definitely well-written. ( )
  StefanieBrookTrout | Feb 4, 2017 |
Haunting is a good word for this book on several levels. The format is unusual and effective. War flashbacks are as riveting as the present story, and some the characters are frightening, both in action and thought process -- and at times lack thereof. Kathy and John's relationship at times defies understanding, especially on Kathy's part. In that and other regards, there are psychological aspects to the story. I could get lost in the setting on the lake, and apparently so could the characters.

Kathy and John, a married couple, go to a remote lake cabin after John loses an election because of stories that surfaced about his involvement in heinous activity during the Vietnam War. John was more present than involved and has post traumatic stress disorder, or something worse. His childhood was laced with incidents that affected him as well. We don't realize how profoundly every childhood interaction affects a person's adult life. Pile on that unfathomable acts during wartime, and some people come to a breaking point. Humans have varied and interesting ways of coping with things that overpower the senses and psyche. They also create ways to cope with challenging relationships.

The story portrays effectively the confusing facts about what happened in this relationship at the lake cabin, and why the sequence of events seemed so muddy. The peripheral characters are all too real. You know them; you meet them every day going about your life.

Did anyone really know Kathy or John? Did they know each other? What things do you not talk about to anyone? How do secrets affect your life? What would other people say about you? Good literary book, brilliantly written. ( )
  Rascalstar | Jan 21, 2017 |
This novel made me shiver. ( )
  rgustafson | Dec 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
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With thanks to John Sterling, Larry Cooper, Michael Curtis, Les Ramirez, Carol Anhalt, Lori Galzer, Lynn Nesbit, and my loving familoy. Sam Lawrence, who died in January 1994, was my publisher, advocate, and friend for more than two decades. I will always happily recall his faith in me.
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In September, after the primary, they rented an old yellow cottage in the timber at the edge of Lake of the Woods.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 061870986X, Paperback)

Tim O'Brien has been writing about Vietnam in one way or another ever since he served there as an infantryman in the late 1960s. His earliest work on the subject, If I Die in a Combat Zone, was an intensely personal memoir of his own tour of duty; his books since then have featured many of the same elements of fear, boredom, and moral ambiguity but in a fictional setting. In 1994 O'Brien wrote In the Lake of the Woods, a novel that, while imbued with the troubled spirit of Vietnam, takes place entirely after the war and in the United States. The main character, John Wade, is a man in crisis: after spending years building a successful political career, he finds his future derailed during a bid for the U.S. Senate by revelations about his past as a soldier in Vietnam. The election lost by a landslide, John and his wife, Kathy, retreat to a small cabin on the shores of a Minnesota lake--from which Kathy mysteriously disappears.

Was she murdered? Did she run away? Instead of answering these questions, O'Brien raises even more as he slowly reveals past lives and long-hidden secrets. Included in this third-person narrative are "interviews" with the couple's friends and family as well as footnoted excerpts from a mix of fictionalized newspaper reports on the case and real reports pertaining to historical events--a mélange that lends the novel an eerie sense of verisimilitude. If Kathy's disappearance is at the heart of this work, then John's involvement in a My Lai-type massacre in Vietnam is its core, and O'Brien uses it to demonstrate how wars don't necessarily end when governments say they do. In the Lake of the Woods may not be true, but it feels true--and for Tim O'Brien, that's true enough. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:07 -0400)

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After John and Kathy realize that their marriage has been built on deception, Kathy mysteriously disappears in the Minnesota north woods.

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