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...the smell of piss an' shit in his pants: T. Wignesan

Kalyan Panja Friday, July 17, 2015 cyberwit , memoir




...the smell of piss an' shit in his pants by T. Wignesan is a true story of a twenty-year old lad from America who saw active duty as a foot-soldier beginning in the late '60s.  This book is a vicarious memoir, not a novel. The author interviewed a Vietnam War veteran in 2009, and the text constitutes a psychological portrait of a friend he had met and known for a year soon after his being demobbed. The background to the story is not just the horror of war, but what this particular war did to him and his generation.  On the psychologist and psychiatrists' cards, he remains tagged as a post-traumatic stress case.



All the names of persons and places have been deliberately changed and substituted with mythological ones.


In all he had spent a year and 67 days in Vietnam. On three occasions, he and his operational squads were ambushed by the Viet-Cong and North Vietnamese regular army personnel. There were seven other skirmishes as well. A month after his arrival on October 1st, 1968, he underwent the shock of seeing and handling mashed-up and dismembered bodies of his buddies whilst staving off an assault from the Viet Cong.


The second ambush took place at the Long Ogygia Base on the Cambodian border and lasted some twelve hours when he killed two North Vietnamese Army recruits, one with his M16 and another with his Ka-Bar knife.


On Vietnam much has been written, but this vicarious memoir stands out for its originality, outspokenness and revelations. The descriptions of the assaults in the Vietnamese jungle, the techniques of war and military means make for gripping reading.


Ulixes – here the interviewed soldier – is well aware of the risks he has to take every time he is ordered out on a mission. The author manages to convey to the reader the undercurrent of the humanity and sensitivity of the soldiers at every sortie simmering under the guise of efficiency and determination.  Ulixes who has to deal with his own conscience as an inexperienced youth remains exposed to the intolerable conditions of a brutal war and returns thereafter to face up to the reality of a forfeited early life in the jungles.


Exciting, compelling, full of suspenseful action, the book is a masterpiece on the Vietnam war seen through the eyes of a soldier who really existed which is nothing short of amazing from beginning to end. And as always with the books of this genre, you have to be open to the multiple layers of meaning which confront you page after page, and you have to decide at some point whether you consider him a hero or an anti-hero.


Other incidents and encounters seen through the eyes of the protagonist Ulixes, together with his own attitudes and complexes vis--vis his associates and fellow soldiers, make this account of a life a veritable mine of a document for the benefit of the authorities everywhere.


A fantastic memoir of the bare old-fashioned type of war. Here the enemy is only a target. The author describes in great detail the activities of the US soldiers, interspersed with heroic sacrifice until the bitter end. The text leaves an unpleasant and uneasy feeling at the end of what can only be described as a dirty war.



Format: Paperback ♥ Publisher: Cyberwit ♥Pages: 120 ♥ Published: June 2015 ♥Language: English ♥ ISBN-13: 978-8182535886