Saigon, Illinois

Paul Hoover, Author Vintage Books USA $6.95 (229p) ISBN 978-0-394-75849-7
``It was the summer of 1968, and I'd just graduated from college,'' announces Jim Holder, the narrator of this affecting and intelligent black comedy by a critically acclaimed poet. ``Now that my student deferment was at an end, the president and my fellow citizens had chosen me to defend the country.'' But Holder, a committed pacifist, attains conscientious-objector status and spends two years in ``alternative service'' at a Chicago hospital which, as the book's title suggests, is itself a battleground of quotidian injustices and banal cruelties. The novel's serious purpose is balanced by its mordant wit, generally controlled irony and graphic language. When Holder confronts the draft board he stands ``in front of the chair with arms extended, like a divinity student about to bless some macaroni.'' Instead of idealizing or yearning nostalgically for the fervor of the '60s, Hoover conveys the complexities of the times, including the complacency of some activists. `` `You're a fake hippie,' '' Holder tells his roommate. `` `You do all the right things like writing poems . . . but you don't really believe in anything.' '' Readers will enjoy Hoover's vibrant prose as they admire his ability to cast a moral vision on an anarchic and absurd world. (September)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 229 pages - 978-1-4804-5693-8
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