NO ONE THINKS OF GREENLAND

John Griesemer, Author
John Griesemer, Author NO ONE THINKS OF GREENLANDJoh $24 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-27457-3
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4668-0324-4
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4481-1076-6
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-312-28336-0
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-0-552-99987-8
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It's 1959 at the start of this intelligent first novel, and the Korean War has been over for six years, but the horribly mutilated casualties hidden away in an obscure military hospital on the U.S. Army base at Qangattarsa, Greenland, are still living with its consequences. The Wing, as the hospital is called, is run by Col. Lane Woolwrap, a half-mad bureaucratic genius who equips the place with oak paneling and Tiffany lamps. Assigned to his command is army misfit Rudy Spruance, an information officer relegated to Qangattarsa for reasons unknown. Woolwrap orders Rudy to start a newspaper to boost morale, but Rudy's journalistic investigations uncover unpleasant facts about the history—and the future—of the hospital's patients. Qangattarsa is a mysterious and disorienting place, and the harsh Greenland landscape undermines the soldiers' sanity; glaciers move menacingly in the night, hordes of mosquitoes attack and the long polar darkness of winter is hard to bear. Griesemer is at his best describing the strange recreational activities that occupy the Greenland troops: chasing polar bears in jeeps, throwing beer blasts that degenerate into fistfights and public nudity. In its manic moments, the book recalls the topsy-turvy military worlds of Catch-22 and M*A*S*H, though it doesn't quite reach the subversive heights of its predecessors. Rudy's love affair with Sgt. Irene Teal, the colonel's aide and companion, is conventional, and where Heller's Yossarian was an inspired antihero, forging his own moral code in order to cope with his surreal surroundings, Rudy takes a more standard route, fighting for the weak against a malevolent system. Still, his struggle is a compelling one, as post–Korea and Vietnam revelations make the conspiracies imagined here near-plausible. Regional author tour. (May)

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