Review by Beverly Pechin for Reader Views
F.N.G. is one of those books that you're expecting one thing and are handed an entirely different, more intriguing, more intense experience. I've always been intrigued with the Vietnam War itself and sort of have a standard of expectation when it comes to books regarding the experience. Most are raw and somewhat intense in the sense that they bring an inner, personal experience to the surface; allowing the author to break free of the many reigns they've held for so many years. F.N.G. is raw, real and amazing but it's simply put, not typical of those autobiographies you seem to find regarding the war or the bland "news" viewpoints that many put out there.
The author, Donald Bodey, is a Vietnam Vet himself but his writings aren't typically "autobiographic", yet completely experience based & real. Bodey has a way of taking an experience that many of us today are clueless about and bringing it full face into a realistic view. Using a metaphoric writing style, he brings the reality of war & the experiences between men into today's world with comparisons of "real world" and "real people" circumstances.
Bodey grabs his audience immediately with an encounter between a man and his grandson that makes you wonder how or what this man is doing. Having experienced war himself, Grandfather & Vietnam Vet, Gabriel sees his grandson being pulled into the same direction as he's signed to go into the armed forces to serve in Iraq. As he takes his grandson out for a "hunting trip" he has a brief talk with God before he shoots his grandson, Seth, making readers wonder what this man is thinking. As the story unfolds and Gabriel's experiences in life and war unfold, you begin to realize and even sympathize with the man's reasoning. While I had a hard time thinking in terms of "why you would shoot someone you love", as I began to read the life and times of Gabriel himself I began to understand the entire idea of wanting to be sure someone you love with all your heart doesn't have to experience the same horrors and life changing experiences you, yourself, have experienced & may go to any lengths to keep them from having to do so.
Intense & hearty, the storyline is beefed up with the deep camaraderie and experiences Bodey portrays in his novel. Bringing war to the real world isn't as easy as it may seem and making one's heart ache with the characters is a talent that some simply do not have;Bodey not only has this talent but shares it well in his novel, F.N.G., with his readers. If you're looking for a book filled with an intense accounting of the Vietnam War and those involved, this book is one that should top your list of "must reads".