I searched for but could not find a likeable character in Altamont Augie (Interloper Press, 308 pp., $15.95, paper) by Robert Barager. I didn’t even find an interesting one.
The three main characters are like spring-loaded cliché’s or diagrams: an anti-war princess, a Khe Sanh Marine, and an SDS organizer. The large section of the book that takes place at Khe Sanh was adequately done in an historical novel sort of a way, but Barager, a nephrologist, has produced a dense thicket of a story that was a hard slog every inch of the way.
Here’s a sentence plucked from an action-packed section of the book: “The late-afternoon sun waned low in the sky, leaching color from the bay and turning the liquid palate around her an opaque shade of perse.” I had to look in four dictionaries to find a workable definition of the word “perse.”
There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of sentences similar to this one in Altamont Augie . Don’t try to read this war novel without a large dictionary near at hand.
The author’s web site is http://richardbarager.com/altamont-augie