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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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1,892453,624 (3.79)94
  1. 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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Pretty good book...doesn't just TELL you what happens (you have to decide for yourself)...and it makes one wonder, what does your decision on the book say about your view of human nature? ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Pretty good book...doesn't just TELL you what happens (you have to decide for yourself)...and it makes one wonder, what does your decision on the book say about your view of human nature? ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Written by a Minnesota native about a fictional couple who's husband just lost a US Senate election due to the 'dirt' just dug up on him. His wife of 20 years knows nothing about this part of his life. It's kind of a murder mystery, except you never know.... ( )
  camplakejewel | Oct 29, 2013 |
Expectations - they ruin books. I picked this one from a line up at the library. Just entering October, there was a shelf of horror books. I thought that was where I got this book. However, I assume this book was actually in a "literary/mystery" shelf. I'm OK with mystery's, but I do not recall ever enjoying a book labeled "literary."

Unlikeable lead characters - they also ruin books for me. There were many characters I liked in the book: the sheriff, the old/wise neighbor, and the neighbors wife, to name three. The senator, the one who killed his wife, and the senator's wife herself, were irritating.

Unresolved mysteries - I think that is how this book ends. There is footnote in this oddly formatted novel that states the mystery will not be solved. Earlier in the review I wrote the senator killed his wife. I think he did it. However, I do not know for sure. I do not think it is revealed. The book was unreadable at the end. I started reading only the first and last sentence of paragraphs. I ended up not finishing. ( )
  mainrun | Oct 12, 2013 |
This is many different stories rolled into one. It is the story of an abused childhood. It is a vicious Vietnam War documentary. It is a quiet mystery. It is a love-with-abandon story and a tangled tragedy. John Wade is an Vietnam vet who lost the election for a seat in the U.S. Senate. The campaign was a complete disaster prompting John to take his wife, Kathy, to a secluded cabin in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota, so that he might lick his wounds in private. After a week away from the world Kathy inexplicably disappears. Using flashbacks to John's childhood, college days, tour in Vietnam & relationship with Kathy, John's psychological history is revealed. As a young child his father taunted him about his weight, teased him relentlessly about his obsession with magic. John learned at an early age to hide his feelings by imagining mirrors in his head, mirrors that reflected the world he wanted to live in and how he wanted people to treat him. In college his obsession with his future wife Kathy was like a sickness. He would spy on her incessantly, claiming he loved her too much to leave her alone. He would not spend hours doing this, but entire days. Then there was Vietnam. His enduring love of magic prompted the soldiers in his company to nickname him "Sorcerer." This, along with the mirrors still in his head, allowed John to become someone else during the atrocities of war. He believed his violent actions were not his own because they belonged to Sorcerer. Throughout dating in college and during the political campaign as man and wife Kathy and John's relationship was never on the same page. He spied. She needed space. She wanted children but when she became pregnant he convinced her to abort. He loved the campaign trail. She wanted off it. But did that mean John had something to do with her disappearance? O'Brien introduces a kernel of doubt when he describes Kathy lost in the maze of rivers beyond Lake of the Woods. The boat is missing after all... ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jul 30, 2013 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:23 -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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