Buffalo Boy and Geronimo

James Janko, Author . Curbstone $15 (261p) ISBN 978-1-931896-19-1

A medic during the Vietnam War, Janko makes his novel debut with a look at the war's toll on the country's villagers. Nguyen Luu Mong, a boy just entering adolescence, is caught between growing responsibilities to kin, a boyhood he doesn't want to leave and the harsh realities of foreign invasion. The narrative shifts back and forth between Mong and Antonio Lucio, a medic appalled by the war's senseless destruction of the countryside and of the native ways of life. Janko's writing has a gentle, tactile quality that lends itself well to his frequent use of interior monologue, but the emphasis on description and introspection comes at the expense of plot movement. The story plods along with little direction until the last 90 pages, when the villagers flee an attack and Lucio goes AWOL. That the resolution isn't satisfying feels intentional, but it's also frustrating. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/24/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
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