What Am I Doing Here?
Author: Jim Kesey
Publisher: Three Rivers Publications (2001)
Binding: Paperback, 381 pages
"What Am I Doing Here?" is a story that takes an otherwise terrifying event in American History that is familiar to all Veterans and brings it into a realm of understanding for the families of those who were there. Kesey weaves a suble but perfectly orchestrated humor through an environment of chaos.
Vietnam in early 1965 was just a place on a map. On a foggy morning of March 8th our reluctant hero, Marine Lt. Dusty Kohl, was shocked to find himself standing on a sandy beach north of Danang, Vietnam with a lei around his neck.
You are given a rare look into what it was like to spend a tour in Vietnam. You will follow Lt. Kohl's comedy of errors that brought him to that beach in Danang. You will see both the humor and the grim horror of war. This novel is not just a war story but a uniquely written insight into the life of a young Marine who finds himself in a situation where he has no control. As each day passes, time tests fate. Is Kohl going to make it home to his young wife and family? Does God have a plan or is it just dumb luck who lives and who dies? Or is there something else in store for Kohl? Survival means more than just staying alive.
MWSA 2004 Gold Medal for Historical Fiction
Not every book about Vietnam deals with that war like the author Jim Kesey has. He treats us to a wonderful and amusing storyline in his first novel, "What Am I Doing Here?" Jim is truly a gifted wordsmith. He uses his words to paint for us an interesting and at times, a very humorous tale about a not so funny place in time of our history. The book may remind some readers of other novels that have successfully pulled off this type of genre like, Catch-22 and M.A.S.H.
The book makes for a great weekend read. It is one of those, action adventure, books that do not take the subject too seriously. It delivers lots of action but it also allows you to get to know each character in the story. The reader will feel connected with each of them. I fully recommend this book even for non-veterans to read.
Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)