'Dapin's writing is more than witty, tough, moving and highly original: it's explosive.' ROBERT DREWE
John 'Nashville' Grant is an American military policeman in the R&R town of Vung Tau, tucked safely behind the front lines of the Vietnam War. Nashville knows how everything works: the army, the enemy, bars, secrets, men and – at least in Vung Tau – women. He's keeping the peace by keeping his head down and making the most of it.
His new partner is a tall man from a small town: Shorty, from Bendigo. Shorty knows nothing about anything, and he wishes people would stop mistaking that for stupidity.
When another MP shoots a corpse in a brothel, the delicate balance between the military police, South Vietnamese gangsters and the Viet Cong is upset. Nashville and his partner are drawn into the heart of the matter by their violent colleague Sergeant Caution, the obsequious landlord Moreau, the improbable entrepreneur Izzy Berger and the mysterious, omnipotent Mamasan. Events begin to force the pair to uphold the law and perhaps – ultimately, unwillingly – to take it into their own hands.
Written with a brilliant, concise wit and brutal, uncompromising insight, R&R is a startlingly original portrait of men and war in the twilight zone behind the front, a searing study of the violence that we do to others, and ourselves.
Caroline Baum's Review
Blam! Author hits target with a bullseye.
Former magazine columnist Mark Dapin has become The War Guy (his military history The Nashos' War was widely acclaimed) and this novel confirms that status and a whole lot more. I'll admit when I came to this Vietnam War story about two Military Police - one a seen-it-all hard-drinking womanising American, and one a naïve but very tall Australian with reservations: I didn't fancy being immersed in that macho violent brutal crude world. But I was wrong, and knew it within the first twenty pages, which were bracingly alive with a heady mixture of bawdy humour and raw masculine energy.
Dapin writes with tremendous swagger (his style is a head-on collision of Steve Toltz and Joseph Heller). In Nashville and Shorty he's created two memorable characters: an unlikely couple defined by physical and psychological contrasts that suggest they may become enemies. Instead, the very opposite happens and the story of their growing effect on each other unfolds in scenes that are taut and explosive with occasional moments of gentler comedy that allow you to regroup before the next skirmish - there's a dinner seduction scene which Nashville orchestrates when Shorty takes his nurse girlfriend on a date that he pulls off with surprising delicacy (this is not a book full of subtlety) and good natured fun, creating an oasis of innocence in a narrative that is otherwise steeped in sleaze.
Rude, raw, crude, violent and shocking, this is as satisfying a mateship story as you could hope for if you like yours on the perverse end of the spectrum.
About the Author
Mark Dapin is the author of the novels King of the Cross and Spirit House. King of the Cross won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, and Spirit House was long listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Age Book of the Year and the Royal Society for Literature's Ondaatje Prize. His recent work of military history, The Nashos' War, has been widely acclaimed. He is a PhD candidate at the Australian Defence Force Academy.
PRAISE FOR MARK DAPIN'S NOVELS: 'A little masterpiece of comedy and torment.' The Australian, 'Book of the Year' 'Every now and then you can run across a writer who does a little magic. They take something that almost everyone thinks they know something about, re-examine it from a completely unexpected direction and present the reader with a whole new take on their expectations ...Mark Dapin has pulled off a deeply human, but particularly Australian, bit of magic.' Courier-Mail 'Every other week, it seems, a fine new Australian novel is published. Few, however, can equal the vernacular flair, the originality of treatment of matters that we had thought overly familiar and the narrative drive of Mark Dapin's Spirit House ...Dapin is funny, poignant, vibrantly witty and his novel is a treat from its elegiac opening to its bitter, unexpected close.' Canberra Times 'A literary cocktail of rare originality. It is not hard to see why Mark Dapin's stylish novel, set in Nineties Sydney, was such a critical success in Australia. The writing has real freshness ...the story glides effortlessly from an intriguing start to a heart-warming resolution ...Dapin impresses with the understated authority of his storytelling.' Daily Telegraph, UK
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 29th July 2015
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.2 x 15.9 x 2.2
Weight (kg): 0.38
Edition Number: 1