Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam

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9781558494428: Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam
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The Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of an Army nurse; In this powerful story collection - the first such work of fiction by a woman who served in Vietnam - Susan O'Neill offers a remarkable view of the war from a female perspective. All the nurses who served there had a common bond: to attend to the wounded. While men were sent to protect America's interests at any cost, nurses were trained to save the lives of anyone - soldier or citizen, ally or enemy - who was brought through the hospital doors. It was an important distinction in a place where killing was sometimes the only objective. And since they were so vastly outnumbered, women inevitably became objects of both reverence and sexual desire. For American nurses in Vietnam, and the men among whom they worked and lived, a common defense against the steady onslaught of dead and dying, wounded and maimed, was a feigned indifference - the irony of the powerless. With the assistance of alcohol, drugs, and casual sex, ""Don't mean nothing"" became their mantra, a means of coping with the other war - the war against total mental breakdown. Each or these tales offers new and profound insight into the ways the war in Vietnam forever

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Review:

With remarkable restraint and uncommon poignancy, O'Neill... delivers assertions of humanity from the depths of a barbarous war. - Boston Magazine; ""Offers startling glimpses of absurdity and transcendence at three Vietnam field hospitals where, against a background of blood and testosterone, young female officers and nurses are made simultaneously into saviors, survivors, and sex objects.... as entertaining as it is harrowing."" - Los Angeles Times; ""Refreshing maturity and a profound sense of compassion.... Focused and sympathetic, this is a valuable contribution to the mostly macho literature of Vietnam."" - Publishers Weekly; ""Dialogue plastered with soldierly 'trash talk' may offend some, but she has nailed the Vietnam argot - obscene talk for an obscene war.... This is writing of a virtuoso who continues to engage, teach, and amaze her readers."" - Louisville Courier-Journal; ""The real star, which seems like the missing piece to a puzzle we've been working on for decades, is the female point of view on loss, desire, and mercy in what the Vietnamese call 'the American War.' "" - Arizona Republic

From the Author:

Donít Mean Nothing is a collection of short stories about medical personnel in Viet Nam. It is fiction; but like all fiction, there is an underlying basis in fact: I served 13 months in U.S. Army hospitals in 1969 -1970 as an Operating Room nurse.

The book is a schizophrenic mixture of tragedy and comedy, because thatís what it was, being female and a nurse in Viet Nam. My characters are doctors, nurses, corpsmen, grunts, REMFs, Vietnamese, even a monkey I borrowed from Asian folklore. I love them all; they are my Imaginary Friends.

DMN has gotten many kind reviews from the likes of Publisherís Weekly, the LA Times, Booklist, the Detroit News, Boston Magazine, Mademoiselle (honest!) and my own UMaine alumni magazine (Iíve doubled my contribution, thank you). In fact, to date, itís only gotten one negative review, a very snotty bit of put-down from Kirkus Reviews that ultimately pronounced it "M*A*S*H, with lots more sex and cursing." It was the first blurb I read upon the bookís US publication, and it broke my heart. After extensive therapy and a daily regimen of Prozac, I have decided the problem is theirs: they really didnít appreciate my sense of humor. Ultimately, Iím grateful to Kirkus: not only did they give me the gift of humility, but that M*A*S*H tagline made a terrific T-shirt (Iíd love to claim the idea as my own, but it really came from the brilliant Marilyn Knapp Litt, webmistress for the InCountry Women Website and Discussion Group. If you want to learn more about my sisters-in-arms and me, this is one of the best sources in the universe).

I hope you like my book. I hope it entertains you, challenges you, makes you laugh and, most important of all, makes you think. There seems to be a shortage of that these days.

Sincerely,
Susan Kramer O'Neill

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