Zombie Jamboree

Robert Merkin, Author William Morrow & Company $0 (335p) ISBN 978-0-688-01946-4
Merkin has come so close to writing a terrific novel about two 1970 army draftees that his near-miss is a sharp disappointment. Better than many Vietnam-era novels, Merkin's book approaches the perverseness of the military in a way that recalls, but does not equal, Catch-22. The novel focuses on Richard Heiser, who loses his college exemption, and David Becker, who ""volunteers'' for the draft after an escapade with an underage girlfriend. Becker is the more appealing character, whose disdain for the army is channeled into small acts of subversion. Heiser has none of Becker's black humor and allows his anger and frustration to turn to bitterness. Much of the bookperhaps too muchis set in Fort Benning, Ga., as the men await their orders for an inevitable tour in Vietnam. Once there, Becker lofts weather balloons and Heiser gets into serious trouble. Impressive as it is, the novel lacks the consistent manic energy and mordant humor that might have rendered it outstanding. Merkin wrote The South Florida Book of the Dead. (June
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Paperback - 335 pages - 978-0-07-041519-5
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