Mark Masse is a professor of literary journalism at Ball State University. His new book, Vietnam Warrior Voices, Life Stories: Caputo, Del Vecchio, Butler, O’Brien (Mark Henry Masse, 94 pp., $5.99, paper; $4.99, Kindle), is a work of literary journalism. It is based on a series of interviews Masse did with the four “warrior voices” of the subtitle.
In about seventy pages of text, Masse gives the reader the pith of what these writers have tried to accomplish in their books. He gives the impression that all four have been tormented, angry souls at some time in their lives. Maybe that is a characteristic of most authors who write books that deal with war. War is not a happy subject.
I got a good sense of what these men have accomplished in their lives and in their writing careers. Plus, this book would have motivated me to read their books—if I had not already read all of them. I am motivated to reread John Del Vecchio’s novel, The Thirteenth Valley, as I didn’t much like it the first time I read it a long time ago.
If I were still teaching a Vietnam War literature course, I would use this book as an introductory text. It would work well for that purpose.
I’ve met Bob Butler and Tim O’Brien, and my impression of them and of their work is about the same as Masse’s. So I figure that the portraits he draws of the other two, Del Vecchio and Philip Caputo, are equally accurate.
I find myself asking why I’ve not met Caputo or Del Vecchio. I don’t know; maybe I lacked the motivation. Certainly both of them have been out on the road giving talks and signing books—the purgatory of authors who wish to sell books.
I suggest buying and reading at least one book by each of these guys—they are worth that much effort. They have all worked hard at their craft and have achieved some notice, even as fame and fortune have—by and large—eluded them.
The author’s website is markmasse.com