Book Review: "Don’t Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam" | TheUnion.com
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Book Review: "Don’t Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam"

Susan O’Neill



Ballantine, 2001




Think “M*A*S*H” told from a female perspective, only with a Vietnam setting. In 1969, fresh out of nursing school, Susan O’Neill’s serious case of wanderlust prompts her to join the U.S. Army Medical Corps. Like Dorothy, who longs to be any place but Kansas, O’Neill longs to wave goodbye to Indiana cornfields. She ends up working in the operating theater in Vietnam.

Her debut story collection, “Don’t Mean Nothing,” runs the gamut from grim to poignant to hilarious. My personal favorites are “Hope Is the Thing with a Golf Club,” an ironic account of Bob Hope’s Christmas visit; and “Monkey on Our Backs,” in which a harried nurse hires a hit man to kill a pesky monkey.

A moving contribution by a woman to the literature of Vietnam, “Don’t Mean Nothing” enlarges our understanding of the American experience in Vietnam. A not-to-be-missed treat.

Phylis Warady

Alta Sierra


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