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Northwest Passages: Karl Marlantes

Pete Springer/OPB

Seaside native Karl Marlantes spent 30 years writing Matterhorn, his bestselling novel about the Vietnam war. He served as a Marine in Vietnam.

When I needed to deal with the war, I would go into the basement and whale away on this novel. It kept me out of the bars and off drugs. The question is why I kept trying to get it published.

He first tried in 1977. Last year, Atlantic Monthly Press put out the hardcover version. The paperback followed this month. Marlantes calls Matterhorn a story with shades of the Percival myth, about a young man who has to learn compassion in a very hard place.

We’ll talk about how Marlantes’s novel parallels his own experience, the meaning of the Vietnam war today, and his new non-fiction work coming out in the fall.

Have you experienced war? Have you read much about it? Have you read Matterhorn? What would you like to ask Karl Marlantes?

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