Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Billy and Cheyenne by Richard P. Flynn

Billy returns home from Vietnam to a changed society.  He is determined to fit in and establish his identity.  Soon he realizes a whole generation is rebelling against their parents' status quo.  It seems everyone has hit the streets in protest.  (taken from the back of the book)

I was anxious to read this one.  I'm a sucker for stories of people who are caught in a world that has changed on them.  It fascinates me watching them try to figure out how they fit in.  That's what I was really hoping for in this book....that gritty, lost and trying to find yourself feeling.

I actually had two other reviews attempt to review this book as well as myself.  Neither of them were able to make it past the first few chapters.  In Billy's attempt to reclaim a semblance of a life for himself, he immerses himself in sex, drugs, rock n roll and protests.  It's pretty difficult to read through.  The first several chapters are nothing but lust, over use, and bad decisions. Once you get past that stage of the book, you actually get to the meat of the story.  Billy is lost and everything that brings him safety and security is abandoning him.  Life isn't the same as when he left for war.  He doesn't know how to cope with the world he's been thrown back in to.  Although he doesn't really go into a lot of in-depth emotion, we find this out through his actions.  Billy is both traumatized and depressed.  As Billy's surroundings change, he wants to change as well but he doesn't know how.

The most important purpose for this book is that it has a gritty and dark accounting of a time period that is long over.  Though it's fiction, it's historical accuracy goes right along with everything I've ever read.  Is Billy's tale true of all men who returned from Vietnam?  Probably not, but it's a great representation of the bulk of them.

Flynn's storytelling is brisk and easy to read.  Though you have to slog through a lot of annoying drugs and sex to actually get to the story, it's worth it.  Nothing in this book is written gratuitously, but rather so that we can see not only the time period, but our characters' frame of mind.

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