Remarkable Korean War Novel with a Steady Pulse

The Coldest Night by Robert Olmstead

A remarkable novel of war, love, and coming of age. I have read very little about the Korean War. As a boy, I recall being awakened by my screaming uncle, a Korean War vet who I think had similar experiences as the protagonist, Henry Childs did.

The interesting pulse of this novel is that its story line, characters, plot, all move along a simple three act structure of a dramatic present. No gratuitous flashbacks or lapses into a post modern fragmented world. Nope. A simple tale of a young man, a woman, a war. Very eloquent. The prose is always good and then you get some greatness like:

Then the flanks exploded with gunfire and grenades until there was no sound at all but the long unceasing sound of the world's endless thunder concentrated in one place."

"By that time he held no fear for the embrace of gathering darkness in that desolate landscape, no fear of the night shapes that would rise up before his eyes."

"It was an old city and worn out as if built for some future that came by but did not stop for long. The streets steamed ghostlike from the recent thrash of rain. They were dank streets into which the daylight could hardly penetrate."

"Every soldier knew that to tell was to remember and to remember was to experience and to experience was to kill and die all over again."

With prose like this, its worth reading.


#robertolmstead #thecoldestnight #bookreview #novel

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