Started the day off with scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and ‘my mouth was just reborn’-cold juice. Went for a walk around Copenhagen, uneventful in its usual ‘no stores are open, and the tourists didn’t see that coming’-sunday slumber.
Then we lounged out on the bed, each of us with a book, the comfortable sense of each other and the gracious luck of not having any intrusions. That is, by the way, not a bad way to spend a day.
I finished reading Dispatches, by Michael Herr; a poetic, chaotic, hilarious, tragic and most importantly, bare-boned honest faction novel born from Herr’s stay as a correspondent in Vietnam in the 60’s. Page by page, it is the best book I’ve read in years. Decades perhaps. Maybe ever.
Somehow, this book probably also touched you in some manner; or Michael Herr did, I should say, as his account of Vietnam has influenced just about every one of the major Vietnam movies. Apocalypse Now without Michael Herr would have been a significantly different experience, that’s for sure. And his unique scent is picked up from the first page of the ‘Breathing In’ chapter, which by the way is… Transcendent. Amazing. Above all, captivating.
It’s reminiscent of Apocalypse Now, in the sense that without having even been in the same hemisphere as that tortured country, or in anything even remotely resembling the chaos of the Vietnam war, you inherently know that there is so much truth in what you’re taking in. So much so that it becomes not simply a book, but an experience, of Vietnam.
And strangely, Dispatches doesn’t necessarily feel like an anti-war book; as we’re used to these things being. Or as would be ‘right’. Nor does it glorify war either. It lives in that grey murky area we all shy away from, where the ambivalent curiosity that makes us human flourishes, against all sense and reason.
It is an astonishingly honest and naked read, and I highly recommend it.