Have our impressions of the Vietnam War been moulded more by Rambo than reality? Mark Dapin suspects so and that’s a problem, he argues, because military history is as much about the way a war is remembered as the conflict itself. So, how can we access the truths of the conflict?
A journalist, historian and novelist, Dapin has used various approaches to dismantle what he describes as the ‘cancerous mythology’ of the Vietnam War. In efforts to provide a more varied, nuanced depiction of the conflict, Dapin interviewed more than 150 Australian men who served in national service for his 2014 military history book, The Nashos’ War. More recently, he’s turned to fiction: his latest book, R&R, is a sharp, funny mystery novel set in the seaside resort of Vung Tau in 1967.
How does fiction intersect with fact in depictions of war? And can fiction be used to call other fictions into question? Join Mark Dapin for some surprising insights on a narrative and military history.
Mark Dapin is an award-winning author and journalist. His latest novel, R&R (2015), is a gritty thriller set in the Vietnam War. R&R is inspired by Dapin’s hundreds of hours of research and interviews for his widely acclaimed military history The Nashos’ War (2014), which recently won an Alex Buzo Shortlist Prize, as well as the People’s Choice Award, at the national NIB Waverley Library Awards.
Chris Flynn is the author of The Glass Kingdom and A Tiger in Eden, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize. His latest novel is Mammoth, released in March 2020. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the Age, the Australian, Griffith Review, Meanjin, Australian Book Review, the Saturday Paper, Smith Journal, the Big Issue, Monster Children, McSweeney’s and many other publications. He has conducted interviews for the Paris Review and is a regular presenter at literary festivals across Australia. Chris lives on Phillip Island, next to a penguin sanctuary.