More by default than by design, the author finds himself on a six-month contract in a remote part of northern Vietnam. As the year ends, he travels south, through a land that refuses to conform to the cliché the world has built around myopic Hollywood war movies. In attempting to understand the country, he is forced to try to understand himself; and looking inward as much as outwards, he seeks an epiphany in each of the book’s nineteen chapters; questioning, for example, the relationship between journey and destination in ‘Ode to a Sleeper Bus’; the loss of youth in ‘China Beach’; and the nature of risk in ‘Rules of the Road’. Humourous, insightful and literary, Notes on Nam operates on many levels.
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