The Vietnam Years

Stephen King's new novel is a tour de force about love, life, war and the supernatural.

It's hard to imagine the king of horror sitting down to write a novel about the Vietnam War - and even harder to imagine that the end product would be worth reading. But Stephen King seems to take delight in going where no horror novelist has gone before - in the past year, he's released a novel in six installments, written a movie script, and created a 60-page novella distributed only through the Internet. And as with his past experiments, the end product is usually rewarding - "Hearts In Atlantis" is easily one of his better works, and well worth a look!

The story is actually made up of five inter-woven narratives, covering the years between 1960 and 1990 - the first of these introduces the main characters and sets the stage for all that unfolds next. Bobby Garfield, John Sullivan and Carol Gerber are the best of friends - until the time Bobby is befriended by Ted Brautigan, a refugee from a parallel universe, and becomes part of a betrayal that scars him for life...

Over the next thirty years, King traces the course of these three lives, and uses the backdrop of the Vietnam War to beautifully illustrate the sad and dangerous anger that permeated American life at the time. From small towns to large cities, from university campuses to Vietnamese jungles, "Hearts In Atlantis" is the story of Bobby Garfield, his best friend, the girl they both love, and the lives they touch across what many have called the worst period in American history; it's also a story of morality, of bad judgements, of love during a time of war, and of penitence for past sins. Not to be missed!

This article was first published on 05 Apr 2000.