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In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien
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In the Lake of the Woods (1994)

by Tim O'Brien

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1,914473,580 (3.8)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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Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
How could I not have read this book sooner? It’s been around since 1994. Maybe you, too, have been missing out on IN THE LAKE OF THE WOODS for 20 years. Read it now.

It’s about a politician and his memories and his need for love. It’s about keeping secrets, the effects of war, a missing wife, and some possible explanations. But it’s the way this story is told that makes this book unputdownable.

I won’t tell you the story. Read it. And read the footnotes. ( )
  techeditor | Sep 14, 2014 |
Four stars for this one on the basis of the writing alone. Every time I closed this book, having to go off somewhere instead of finishing it all at once like I wanted to, I felt satisfied by the little taste of excellent writing I'd received. O'Brien pulls the reader right into the story, putting us in uniform right beside Sorcerer in Vietnam, and shoulder-to-shoulder with John as he sneaks around spying on Kathy. An overarching feeling of hopelessness seems to seep right out of the pages, making the reader sympathize with the characters, if not exactly like them. Yes, John's stalker-ish behaviour is strange and creepy, and the soldiers' actions in Vietnam horrific, but, in some way, O'Brien makes you understand where they're coming from.

That said, if you're looking for a typical "mystery," in which we eventually find out what really happened and everything is explained, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Nothing in this story is as concrete as that, but it's beautiful to read. ( )
  athenaharmony | Aug 23, 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 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:23 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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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