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In the Lake of the Woods Paperback – 24 Apr 1995

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo (24 April 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006543952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006543954
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

This remarkable new novel from the National Book Award-winning author of 'Going After Cacciato' and 'The Things They Carried' combines the power of the finest Vietnam fiction with the tension of a many-layered mystery. It begins in a remote lakeside cabin deep in the Minnesota forests, where Kathy Wade is comforting her husband John, an ambitious politician, after a devastating electoral defeat. Then one night she vanishes, and gradually the search for Kathy becomes a voyage into the darkest corners of John Wade’s life, a life of deception and deceit – the life of a man able to escape everything but the chains of his darkest secret.

“A compelling mystery … Tim O’Brien, one of his generation’s most deservedly acclaimed authors, has written a perceptive, engaging and troubling novel, full of powerful prose … challenging and provocative.”
CHICAGO TRIBUNE

“Gracefully written and as gripping as a thriller … O’Brien makes the hunt a thrilling pursuit.”
WALL STREET JOURNAL

“Striking, telling, deeply unsettling. A novel about the moral effects of suppressing a true war story, about the unforgivable uses of history, about what happens when you try to pretend that history no longer exists.”
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

“Perhaps the best writer of fiction about Vietnam. O’Brien’s clean, incantatory prose always hovers on the edge of dream, and his speciality is that twilight zone of chimeras and fears and fantasies where nobody knows what’s true and what is not.”
TIME

“Hauntingly poignant … sheer brilliance. Only a master can navigate as compellingly as O’Brien.”
MIAMI HERALD

About the Author

Tim O’Brien was born in Minnesota and graduated from Macalester College in St Paul. He established himself as one of the leading writers of his generation in 1973 when he published ‘If I Die In A Combat Zone’, the compelling account of his own tour of duty in Vietnam, and is widely regarded as the finest novelist the Vietnam War has produced.


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In September, after the primary, they rented an old yellow cottage in the timber at the edge of Lake of the Woods. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Allthough it is years ago that I have read this fascinating novel about a politician, his wife, her disappearance and their lies of life, I still can smell the village, the lake and the wood. Particularely interesting in this novel is Tim O'Brian's construction of the novel and the three levels of footnotes he uses. They sometimes address the reader, explore and drive on the story or give detailed facts on a former lawsuit of his main character. Overall: A pleasant read, a thrilling novel and definitely a very good recommendation. One of my favourite books of the last years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was steered to Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried (Flamingo) by a reviewer who had commented on another post-Vietnam, anti-war novel which I'd read, and been profoundly impressed by. It was a good recommendation, introducing me to a reflective, powerful, brilliantly crafted writer who was new to me.

In The Lake of the Woods, first published in 1994, and therefore written some twenty years after active USA involvement in that war, has as its meta-theme, war, and the thin layers of reasoned, tender humanity which we build over - not our animal nature, but something which arises from our consciousness and the complexity of rationality itself.

O' Brien was a vet, and that experience - and, he suggests, the experience of that entire generation is now buried deep, and therefore, not always clearly seen, in the psyche of modern American. What is deep-denied cannot be engaged with, worked with, used and transformed.

John Wade, a rising Democrat politician suddenly, crushingly defeated in primaries, following the revelation of forged military history which hid his involvement in Charlie-1 platoon (the My Lai massacre), escapes the media circus by holing up in Lake Of The Woods, an isolated part of Minnesota, with his beloved wife, Kathy. Then Kathy disappears.

This can indeed be read on one level as a mystery or thriller. But it is also a portrait of not just a nation with festering wounds, but of this tendency to darkness within collective and individual psyche.

The interesting structure of the book weaves `the facts' of the story of John and Kathy, (fictional characters) with police and procedural enquiries.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the Lake of the Woods is four things at the same time: a thriller, a Vietnam war book, a love story, and a parable on storytelling. It is layered accordingly, with flashback chapters interspersed between shorts and quotes from the investigation and the main storyline. This makes for a formulaic but effective novel. Some will find the ending unsatisfactory, but this is where the parable on storytelling comes to fruition.

Most of Tim O'Brien's work seems to be related more or less closely to the Vietnam war, of which he is a veteran. Here it forms but a background to the failed political career of John Wade, the protagonist. The book begins as Wade retires to the seclusion of a northern lakeside cottage with his wife Kathy. Wade's secrets reach farther back than his two-year stint in the south Asian jungle. But as Kathy leaves without warning, the plot comes to revolve around her disappearance. O'Brien makes a convincingly intricate rendering of the relationship between the Wades, itself at the heart of Kathy's vanishing trick. The onion is slowly peeled and the story well paced. Both entertaining and interesting.
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