Search - List of Books by Larry Heinemann
Larry Heinemann (born 1944) is an American novelist born and raised in Chicago. His body of work...three novels and a memoir...is primarily concerned with the Vietnam War. Heinemann served a combat tour as a conscripted draftee in Viet Nam from 1967 to 1968 with the 25th Infantry Division, and has described himself as the most ordinary of soldiers. Heinemann's prose style is blunt and straightforward, reflecting his working class background. He drew most directly on his Vietnam experience in his first novel Close Quarters which was published in 1977. His second and most critically acclaimed novel is Paco's Story (1986), which won the 1987 National Book Award for Fiction, topping Toni Morrison's Beloved in a decision that some thought controversial. Other critics and essayists thought the award appropriate and well deserved. At the time, Heinemann's only response to the controversy was that the prize, a check for $10,000, was already cashed, and that the Louise Nevelson sculpture, a gift from the National Book Foundation, was not likely to be returned. Paco's Story relates the postwar experiences of its protagonist haunted by the ghosts of his dead comrades who provide the novel's distinctive narrative voice. The story deals with the seemingly contradictory and morally ambiguous role of the soldier as both victimizer and victim. It is interesting to note that ghost stories are common in both American and Vietnamese literature about the war. (The Women's Publishing House, Nha Xuat Phu Nu, of Ha Noi will publish Paco's Story in the fall of 2010, translated by Pham Anh Tuan. The novel is among the very first American-written war novels to be published in Vietnam.)
Total Books: 35
His third novel, Cooler by the Lake (1992), is a comic story about Chicago, and deals with the awful trouble a petty thief gets into when he attempts to return a wallet with 8 $100 bills in it to the rightful owner. Thematically lighter than his first novels, it was less positively received.
Heinemann's military experiences are documented in his most recent work, Black Virgin Mountain (2005), a memoir. The book chronicles his several return trips to Vietnam and his personal and political views concerning the country and the war. He has often referred to his two war novels and the memoir as an accidental trilogy.
Heinemann's short stories and non-fiction have appeared in Atlantic Monthly, GRAPHIS, Harper's, Penthouse, Playboy, and Tri-Quarterly magazines, as well as Van Nghe, the Vietnam Writers Association Journal of Arts and Letters in Ha Noi, and numerous anthologies including The Other Side of Heaven, Writing Between the Lines, Vietnam Anthology, Best of the Tri-Quarterly, Lesebuch der wilden Männer, The Vintage Book of War Stories, Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace (edited by Maxine Hong Kingston), and most recently in "Humor Me" edited by Ian Frazier. His work has been translated into Dutch, German, French, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Heinemann received a BA from Columbia College, Chicago in 1971. He taught creative writing there until 1986 when he resigned over a furious argument about nepotism and academic freedom. Paco's Story was published later that year. Since then he has since received literature fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Fulbright Scholarship to research Vietnamese folklore, legends, and mythology at Hue University. He is the writer-in-residence at Texas A&M University.