In 1980, Richard Currey published Crossing Over to wide critical acclaim and a Pulitzer Prize nomination. Best described as flash fiction, Crossing Over is hybrid prose-poetry about one young man’s journey through the Vietnam War. Adapted for the stage, and praised by antiwar activist Daniel Berrigan, Currey brings us vignettes from the war-torn jungles.
Crossing Over has long been regarded as one of the Vietnam Era’s most evocative literary works. Cited by Library Journal as a ‘Best of the Small Presses,’ the prose poems and vignettes of Crossing Over formed the basis of Currey’s 1988 novel Fatal Light, cited by Tim O’Brien as “one of the very best works of fiction to emerge from the Vietnam War.”
Richard Currey served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972 in the U.S. Navy. He was trained in jungle warfare and special operations, and was a medical corpsman attached to the Marine Corps’s Fleet Marine Force. He has written Crossing Over: A Vietnam Journal, which went on to vast acclaim and a Pulitzer Prize nomination, and Lost Highway. He lives in Washington, DC.
Praise for Crossing Over
Crossing Over is both beautiful and terrifying … it is a work of art, the commonplace book for a terrible era.
“I read Crossing Over with a heart that sank and lifted with these tides of passion, affliction, exaltation. It is truly minimal art, in which the less is the more. This little book wounds one with a glimpse into the depths, the horrors of which we are capable. At the same it heals … I thank Richard Currey for recalling to an amnesiac, bewildered people the limits of crime and the grandeur of conscience.”
“For a generation of Americans the War in Vietnam was an indelible, defining experience. It shapes the way we vote (or don’t vote) now. It accounts for our cynicism. It is an unstopped social reservoir of pain … there will be Vietnam stories for a long time, tracing the wound, reminding us. Our national neurosis is that we want to forget. But good sense tells us that health lies in remembering. Richard Currey’s book helps us to remember. His technique is pointillist: brief, strong images, images that are like statements, statements that tell a story of confusion and fear and violence and pain. The style is intense, compressed, insistent. Joseph Conrad said, “My task is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel, and it is, before all, to make you see.” Currey’s remarkable art, like Conrad’s, is that in such a short volume he has made us hear and feel, and the effect is that we see. Vietnam is a complicated story that will speak to us in many voices for a very long time. Currey’s is one true, resonant voice.”
–North American Review
“A dazzling writer, almost making you shield your eyes as you read … Richard Currey achieves a stark immediacy that makes you wince.”
–London Sunday Times
Through sensitive characterizations and a humane, ear-piercing understanding, Richard Currey unravels tales that harbor a depth steeped in the colors of the human spirit.
“Poetically-bonded, gritty, vivid details with tersely understated emotion – thus might one characterize these articulate wartime vignettes. Currey is humanely aware, collagistic, and associative … and his skills as a writer allow this book of fewer than 50 pages to vibrate … a field notebook – beautiful and dreadful.”
–Tap Root Review