Jack Kroll

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 197

"How I Got That Story" reveals an adroit and clever writer with a sharp nose for theatrical effect. But the play, still another one about Vietnam, presents an attitude toward that tragic experience that has just about worn out its welcome.

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The play moves in a drumfire of short scenes that range from fierce black comedy to a final bleak bitterness. Most effective is the gallows humor: in one scene [The Historical Event] … plays an Ambonese psychological-warfare officer who demonstrates to villagers the harmless nature of defoliants by using them for everything from facial soap to breakfast food. Later Gunton is an American photographer so juiced up on atrocity pictures that his favorite is his shot of his own arm being blown off. Gray plays no political favorites; his impulse is not so much to see as to see through—everything and everybody. The result is a pervasive nihilism that spins all sides of the "Ambonese" experience into a philosophical and moral black hole, thus pulverizing all possibility of coming to terms with it. (p. 73)

Jack Kroll, "War Torn," in Newsweek (copyright 1982, by Newsweek, Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Vol. XCIX, No. 9, March 1, 1982, pp. 73-4.

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