Friday, November 26, 2010

The Time in Between by David Bergen

Good book! The Time In Between started out slowly but then really grew on me as I turned the pages. I even almost re-shelved it a couple of times because I didn't think I could read another war themed book so soon after Suite Fran├žaise. But this one was different; the war, in this case, referred to the one in Vietnam and was used as more of a background metaphor than an immediate concern. Charles is a veteran who returns to Vietnam seeking - what? he's not even really sure himself but it's something like absolution - thirty years after his tour of duty as a scared 18 year-old American soldier, involved in events that would haunt him forever. Two of his grown children, Ada and Jon, are on a quest of their own, seeking their reclusive father's whereabouts in Vietnam, retracing his activities and steps, and in the end finding only themselves. The Vietnamese people have moved on; there are hardly any left who are old enough to remember the war, and those who are don't feel a need to talk about it. It's the North Americans who indulge in nostalgia and need closure. Ada and Jon learn to accept what is and move on themselves.

As for style, the writing is stark and I like that; the dialogue and descriptions are minimal leaving so much to the imagination. The only complaint I would have is the frequent retelling of dreams as in, 'Last night she dreamed about . . .' and then going on in detail about said dream. I lost patience pretty quickly with these sequences and ended up just skipping them completely. I was so intent on the story at hand that I didn't want to get side-tracked trying to interpret the characters' subconscious.

It's a moving story, putting me in mind of both of Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce and Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

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