Wednesday, March 24, 2010

*The Time In Between, by David Bergen

Another entry on my reading list for March, The Time In Between won the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize, which recognizes "excellence in Canadian fiction." If you're interested, you can read about it here.  And imho, this book definitely deserved a prize of some sort. 

On the back cover of my copy of The Time in Between there is a blurb from the San Francisco Chronicle saying "A sparse and moving meditation on the burden of war across generations." I couldn't have described it better.  As the book begins, Ada Boatman and her brother Jon are in Vietnam to search for their father Charles. He had gone back to Vietnam some thirty years after he was a soldier there to try and deal with his feelings about a certain painful experience while in the army, a part of his personal story his family doesn't know about. He revisited his time in Vietnam in his head after reading a book given to him by a friend and felt compelled to go back.  But after some time, his family stopped hearing from him; Charles has seemingly just disappeared. The story has two narratives that ultimately weave together - the story of Charles and his need to return to Vietnam and what he finds there, and then Ada's story, and what she finds when she goes in search of her father.

In literature, sometimes less is more. Bergen's work may be short and rather subdued in parts, but it is powerful and carries real emotion. Charles' story is excellently handed down and his character is drawn neatly so that he becomes real. Ada's story was okay, but not the best part of this novel. In any case, this is another one I'd recommend. People who enjoy reading about the past's pull on the present, or who enjoy novels about Vietnam and its aftereffects on the human psyche may also like this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Say what you will, but at least try to be nice about it.