Saturday, November 16, 2019

Book Review (OT): Mrs. Rossi's Dream (Viet Nam, 1967, 1987, MIA - from both sides)

Mrs. Rossi’s Dream, by Khanh Ha, (The Permanent Press, 2019, $29.95, 311 pages)

War: “From Both Sides Now”

An intriguing premise: Viet Nam, more than10 years after the ‘war’ ends, alternating with Vietnam 1967; both, from both sides.

Viet Nam, 1987, the mother of a GI missing in 1967, presumed dead. Her adopted teenage daughter (Vietnamese). Searching for the GI.

Hmmmmmm. . . .

An intriguing book cover with white water lilies and just the hint of a GI in the background, possibly to be overlooked on the book cover itself but very visible online.

Better Summary than . . . .

Mrs. Rossi’s Dream could easily have been a collection of short stories some of which intercalate until they merge almost too quickly: numerous stories which merely set the stage rather than advance the narrative, but the vignettes set the stage well, even if some or most seem to have nothing to do with the characters at the time.

Experience Viet Nam by Reading

You will smell the fragrance (and stench) of a tropical country, you will hear the night sounds of crickets, you will taste rice in all its glory and in every conceivable combination, and you will even be shocked and disappointed by human nature during war (unless you were part of it).

You will learn a few words of Vietnamese and look up place names and other historical facts about the war in general.

You will read what GIs thought of the Vietnamese people and why many North Vietnamese young men dreaded their conscription (“Born North, Die South”).

You will hear the voice of LT Rossi, the American; of a POW and his guards; of Vietnamese elders and young villagers; of the Viet Minh and Viet Cong and the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) but you may easily mix them all up.

Suffice it to say that you will experience 1967 Vietnam and 1987 Vietnam, war and post-war Vietnam, but always in the countryside of fireflies and constant rain and floods and rice and leeches.

Mrs. Rossi’s Dream

Mrs. Rossi’s dream is either her hope of finding her son or his remains, the purpose behind her trip to Vietnam along with her adopted Vietnamese daughter ,or perhaps her son came to her in a dream and she wants to verify the dream. Or it may just be wishful thinking. Which ever it is, is up to the reader.

A literature junkie will find much to discover and discuss. Anyone familiar with the war and the language will find even more, either because he was in the military in Vietnam or perhaps studied the language and culture for work (as I did).

No comments:

Post a Comment