We’re highlighting Karl Marlantes’ Matterhorn tomorrow in Book of the Day, and in my research about the novel, I was struck by the author’s backstory. Marlantes was in the Marines reserves, and he went to Yale and then Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. He then served in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts and ten air medals.
And he worked on the novel that would become Matterhorn for 35 years. In the interview below, Marlantes describes two events that encouraged him to keep writing during all that time:
After that long journey, the novel—published two weeks ago by Atlantic Monthly—has received nearly unanimously positive reviews; in BookPage, Michael Lee, himself a Marine, called the book “amazing. . . searing and complex.” This past Sunday, Matterhorn was on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, where Sebastian Junger called it a “raw, brilliant account of war.”
Although I love Tim O’Brien and I was riveted by Chang-rae Lee’s The Surrendered, I am generally not drawn to war literature. Matterhorn might be an exception. Will you check it out?