* Winner of the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) Gold Medal for Best Literary Fiction
Viet Man is about the transformation of a young man who enlisted in the Navy during the Viet Nam War, was trained as a hospital corpsman, was transferred into the Marine Corps, then sent to Viet Nam where he joined the elite First Recon.
It is a first person narrative of alternating episodes experienced in the rear and in the bush. In the rear, Doc encounters a straw-haired mid-western farm boy who shows him how to prepare a meal of long-rats, and Loopie, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx who shares a guilt-torn confession that borders on confabulation. In the bush, Doc experiences the terror of accidentally releasing a live grenade among his men, of rushing to rescue a wounded marine, and of sharing a quiet conversation in a bunker with Trang, a South Vietnamese soldier.
After being assigned to the Recon Dive Team and attending the Navy diving school in the Philip-pines, he returns to Viet Nam were he engages in numerous combat dives and river operations.
At the end of his tour, he is processed out of the military. And upon his return to his hometown as a veteran, he faces a jarring reception of insolence, indifference, and fragmented flashbacks. In Viet Man, D.S. Lliteras unlocks the inner mystery of a man’s combat experience. It is poetic and haunting, authentic and amusing. It is a story told by a man who ultimately survives the war and returns to his homeland, but another country will
forever dwell in his soul.
"[An] absorbing, gritty military novel . . . [Lliteras] wins the reader's admiration with his loyalty to and compassion for his battle-mauled patients . . . [he] spins his first-person narrative with laconic prose and acerbic wit . . . [an] accomplished novel." —Publishers Weekly
"[Viet Man] is forcefully written, a nice mix of style and subject, and it has much to say about life and death and war and peace . . . Fine war fiction from a writer who's been there." —Booklist
"Viet Man is truth . . . Lliteras’s ability to paint a visual image, to put a thousand meanings into one succinct and profound turn of a phrase, has you walking alongside him, trying to survive, too. The Vietnam Lliteras effectively sketches for you to see, is not a pleasant one. It’s drug-filled, tense, raw, and aching. It’s all there to see, but you feel it in your soul . . . weaves in the dichotomy of potential death and fragile life in phrases that keep punching you between the eyes . . . Viet Man step[s] you back from the canvas – not to judge – but to get a broader view."—This Is Vietnow Magazine - Karen St. John
"[A] very different picture of war from the heroic stories of military glory Americans are used to."—The Daily Press - Christine Verderosa
"[Vietman War] veterans have finally received approval and encouragement to talk about their experiences, only to find that they cannot easily communicate their feelings to those who were not there with them. When an author succeeds in carrying his readers directly into the jungles, the rice paddies, the strangely impersonal hootches and dusty base camps, the world of drugs and blank-eyed mama-sans, the impact of his words makes us gasp for breath and struggle for understanding.
D.S. Lliteras has managed to do exactly that in his tersely-worded literary novel, Viet Man. His narrator has no name other than 'Doc.' . . . As readers, we follow him through his first patrols, his first kill, his first visit to the local red light district, the growing recognition of his own mortality. When he describes a scene, his details are specific and honest. We don't just learn what's going on; we see it and smell it, feel it and hear it. In peaceful moments he speaks to us in sentences and paragraphs. When danger threatens or fear overwhelms, his mental state retreats into disjointed phrases or single words. We learn about his broken romance back home only when something triggers his own memories. And in the end, we accompany him when he returns stateside, only to find that those at home cannot begin to understand that he now lives in a different world than the one they know.
This is a powerful novel, eloquent while using the simplest of vocabulary and poetic in its clear-eyed imagery. Read it. Your understanding of this tumultuous period of our history will be forever enriched."—MWSA Dispatches - Carolyn Schriber, MWSA Reviewer
"What Viet Man offers us is not only a work worthy of literary accolades, but a tribute to a time when the world was confused and tenuous—and we have never been able to understand why, until now, where between the covers of this book we find our own Wilfred Owens. Highly Recommended."—Literary Aficionado (Ontario, Canada) - Grady Harp