"Tree of Smoke" by Denis Johnson

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Perhaps the ultimate novelistic treatment of the origins of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, "Tree of Smoke" is an epic, a quick read, and really centers around the power of lies. This is gigantic, heroic stuff.
The narrative focuses on a young CIA officer assigned to Vietnam in 1961, Skip Sands. Skip is the nephew of the near-mythic, and definitely delusional Frank Sands, a colonel in (presumably) military intelligence, and one major driving force behind American intervention. Other characters also bob and eddy in Frank's wake, in particular a sergeant named Jimmy Storm. His real name, it turns out is B.S., and in this B.S. Storm, we have a distillation of one of the main thrusts of this novel.
Skip butts heads with B.S. on his way to ultimate disillusionment. At the end, besides being a man wanted by the authorities, Skip feels he must assert the truth of Frank's demise, against all those who want to believe he's alive.
I have to congratulate Denis Johnson on the effort throughout, but there is one episode that seals this novel's greatness for me. B.S. forces a shady local man to help him determine some piece of intelligence or other - this is very late in the game, after the Colonel is dead (I think - it's been well over a year since I read this). In the course of guiding Sgt. B.S. Storm to this remote location, the man and the sergeant have to go through a maze-like cave system. They get briefly lost, and thoroughly covered in bat guano. Ultimately, they both fall from a hole six or eight feet to the ground, emerging from the cave into the light, having been "shat" to the ground. I thought this was a sort of summation, a highly appropriate treatment for our master BS-er.

This is masterful, vivid, and powerful. The very distinctive language of the American soldier in Vietnam - part battlefield stress, part drug addlement, part military slang, and all insubordination - is wonderfully, distractingly, on display here. I shake my head in wonder. This is one to definitely take up. Most definitely.
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