R.T. Budd’s The Deepest Wounds of War (Strategic, 312 pp., $28.63) is a very sad novel, full of bitterness. The dedication provides a glimpse of that bitterness: “Fact: 85% of Vietnam Veterans made the successful transition from military to civilian life. This book is dedicated to the forgotten 15%.”
It is clear from the start that the protagonist, Bryan Hamilton, is a very bitter veteran. His experiences as a medic in the Vietnam War are the basis for a novel full of anger and resentment as Hamilton attempts a difficult transition into civilian life after two tours of duty in the war.
The book is full of two-dimensional characters. They include a hypocritical priest who reads Playboy magazine, a young woman who calls Hamilton a murderer, and teenage boys who disrespect the flag.
The Deepest Wounds of War ends up reading more like a memoir than a novel. It has a very episodic feel to it with sixty chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue jammed into 213 pages.
The story may be stilted, but the pain is real.