"Fragments" is a story about how war can make everything explosive--even love--and how two friends try to put the pieces of their lives together again.
" "Fragments"] makes the usual semi-autobiographical account of the Vietnam War] . . . seem flimsy and discursive in comparison. . . . The shapeliness and sense of larger design is] so elegantly executed in "Fragments.""--Michiko Kakutani, "New York Times"
"The plot is believable, the characters sharply drawn, the prose clean and distinctive. . . . Stand s] with Tim O'Brien's "Going After Cacciato, " James Webb's "Fields of Fire, " Josiah Bunting's "The Lionheads" and John Del Vecchio's "The 13th Valley." . . . A strong, compelling novel."--Marc Leepson, "Washington Post"
"There have been many books on Vietnam, and there will be many others. This is more a novel than the rest. . . . Fuller has reassembled the exploded grenade."--Bob MacDonald, "Boston Sunday Globe"
"Should our children ask about Vietnam, we would not go wrong to place this book in their hands. . . . "Fragments"] purveys more than information--it gives the war a literary form."--David Myers, "New York Times"
"The best novel yet about the Vietnam War. . . . It ranks with Norman Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead" and James Jones's "From Here to Eternity.""--Daniel Kornstein, "Wall Street Journal"
Without the intensity or vividness of much Vietnam fiction (e.g., Tiger the Lurp Dog, p. 837; Meditations in Green, p. 843), this short, episodic novel follows narrator Bill Morgan - young, college-educated, but a willing draftee from a conservative background - through training, combat, and homecoming. At first, Morgan takes a passive "grunt"-dike approach to the pressures and dangers of infantry duty: "We were in the army, the Green Machine, and we were heading for the green, primal jungles. Between the two of them, there was nothing for a soldier to decide. He only did what he had to do." But then, after two new buddies are killed during a meaningless mission, "All at once it seemed to me that the Green Machine was a lie." So Morgan volunteers for the more aggressive, focused duties of a "Blue Team," teaming up again with his training chum and fellow NCO: Jim Neumann, a charismatic, forceful, friendly guy who plays jazz flute - and "accepted responsibility for every damned thing he did. Neumann's way was the blues, the tones and sequences he dragged out from within himself, the cadences of his own heart." Not only is Neumann heroic in the scattered missions that follow. He also spends all his free time in a nearby village - befriending the Vietnamese, falling in love with lovely Tuyet, leading the villagers in reconstruction projects. (" 'It's just that we have to leave them something,' he said.") Why, then, does Neumann end up killing Tuyet and her entire family during a village battle against the NVC? That's the question that troubles Morgan, even after he comes home, thoroughly disillusioned, to his proud parents. So there's a final, rather limp confrontation between Morgan and Neumann - with explanations, revelations, guilt, pain, and a predictable fade-out. ("And if I wept at all, it was not for the dead.") Unfortunately, in fact, the novel's one distinctive thread - the melodrama around Neumann - is thin and somewhat romanticized throughout. Fuller's prose, too, frequently strains for eloquence - with hollow, sentimental results. And though there are some solid evocations of now-familiar Vietnam sights and combat-feelings in this modest, decent novel, it has neither the commanding credibility nor the poetic fervor of front-rank Vietnam fiction. (Kirkus Reviews)