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Book review: Cherry — by Nico Walker

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Posted on September 10, 2018 |
By Becky Dayton



Cherry.jpg

(AA Knopf)

Like the heroin to which “Cherry’s” unnamed narrator becomes hopelessly addicted, this debut novel by Nico Walker delivers both an exhilarating high and a proper kick in the nuts. It will make you sick, but you’ll keep going back for more. With dark humor, raw prose and disarming honesty, Walker portrays a young man on a dingy path to self-destruction. Drawn to the military and medic training by a sense of aimlessness over which he cannot scale, the narrator lands himself in Iraq. There, the little ambition he does possess is disabled piece by piece, in turns, by crushing boredom and gruesome casualty. Unlike so many of his compatriots, he arrives home alive and with all of his limbs, but his soul and self are as disabled as his ambition. A girl and heroin are all that’s left. Given that Walker himself served as an Army medic in Iraq, became addicted to heroin, and is now incarcerated in a federal prison for 11 years on a bank robbery conviction, “Cherry” falls squarely in the category of cautionary tale. But with its deserving critical acclaim comes hope — for the author and for a generation.

— Reviewed by Becky Dayton of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.

 

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The Impossible Knife of Memory, by Laurie Halse Anderson

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, by Gabor Mate

Jesus’ Son, by Denis Johnson

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