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Bradford Morrow: Trinity Fields

Kip Calder and Brice McCarthy are born on the same day in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Their fathers both work on the Manhattan Project. The story starts when they are fifteen and make a trip to the desert chapel of Chimayó in a stolen car, because they were sick and our parents were sick and every last one of our neighbours is sick. They had been playing dangerous games since they were young, emulating their elders. Brice subsequently becomes an anti-war activist and marries Jessica, the girl they both love but to whom Kip is engaged, while Kip disappears into Vietnam and then into the covert war in Laos. For twenty years, Kip is gone and then, all of a sudden, turns up again. This is, of course, most upsetting to Brice and Jessica, though we do get to hear at first hand about Kip’s interesting adventures in Vietnam and Laos.

What makes this novel so interesting is that it is not just a simple pro-Vietnam War v. anti-Vietnam War guy but that the images of death and dying are so well conveyed, not only through the killing culture of Los Alamos but also through the culture of the Indians and Mexicans, whose culture is ever present in New Mexico and in this novel and not just at Chimayó. Morrow brilliantly conveys what it is that has driven the US and made it and its people what they are today. The strength of its moral power and its depiction of the nature of war make this a first-class US novel of the late 20th century.

Publishing history

First published 1995 by Viking