James D. Redwood
Love beneath the Napalm is James D. Redwood’s collection of deeply affecting stories about the enduring effects of colonialism and the Vietnamese War over the course of a century on the Vietnamese and the American and French foreigners who became inextricably connected with their fate. These finely etched, powerful tales span a wide array of settings, from the former imperial capital of Hue at the end of the Nguyen Dynasty, to Hanoi after the American pullout from Vietnam, the Chinese invasion of Vietnam in 1979, contemporary San Francisco, and Schenectady, New York.
Redwood reveals the inner lives of the Vietnamese characters and also shows how others appear through their eyes. Some of the images and characters in Love beneath the Napalm— the look that Mr. Tu’s burned and scarred face always inflicts on strangers in the title story; attorney and American Vietnam War–veteran Carlton Griswold’s complicated relationship with Mary Thuy in “The Summer Associate”; Phan Van Toan’s grief and desire, caught between two worlds in “The Stamp Collector”—provide a haunting, vivid portrayal of lives uprooted by conflict. Throughout, readers will find moments that cut to the quick, exposing human resilience, sorrow, joy, and the traumatic impact of war on all those who are swept up in it.
“In his collection Love beneath the Napalm, James Redwood chronicles the choices made by those who survived the Vietnam War and their ensuing consequences. These stories, unusual and unexpected, recount how characters shape and construct their intimate and social landscapes in the wake of conflict. These are important, intimate stories that explore a time that is receding into historical memory. Redwood is an astute writer, and these stories are an impressive debut.” — Sharon Dilworth, author of Year of the Ginkgo
“James D. Redwood’s Love beneath the Napalm is a beautifully written and very human testament to a people who suffered untold horrors during the Vietnam War. A haunting and very powerful collection of stories.” — James Carl Nelson, author of The Remains of Company D: A Story of the Great War and Five Lieutenants
“As the escalation of the Vietnam conflict nears its golden anniversary, James Redwood celebrates in quiet sepia, reflecting all the complexities of the war in this shoebox full of grainy and glowing human portraits.” — Robert Anderson, author of Ice Age
“Love beneath the Napalm recasts the fullness of Vietnam’s suffocating and cruel trouble. The stench of the war’s horror is given a freshly enraptured perspective that never wanders far from the witches’ breath of the violence and lies still calling to sorrows no matter how dispersed. The only witnesses who are ‘truly free,’ as the author states in these quietly alarming and necessary stories that really do take hold, are wind and water." — David Matlin, author of A HalfMan Dreaming and Up Fish Creek Road and Other Stories
“Serious and downbeat… a Vietnam War story collection unlike all others.” — The VVA Veteran, Books in Review II (online)
“This year is the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which became the Johnson administration’s justification for increased military action against North Vietnam. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the introduction of ground troops. Even as those reassessments start, Redwood’s book will ask readers to look at how the years of conflict with the Chinese, French and Americans affected the people of Vietnam.” — South Bend Tribune
“A subtle exploration of the enduring effects of war and colonialism.” — Times Union
“The Vietnam War has a special place in the country’s imagination. It was the first we lost and it was massively unpopular. Love beneath the Napalm, James D. Redwood’s debut collection, explores the human side of the conflict, but from the perspective mostly of the Vietnamese . . . Redwood has made a solid beginning.” — American Book Review
Selected for the 2014 University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries