Carol Middleton reviews 'Enemy: A daughter's story of how her father brought the Vietnam War home' by Ruth Clare

Carol Middleton reviews 'Enemy: A daughter's story of how her father brought the Vietnam War home' by Ruth Clare

Enemy: A Daughter’s Story of How Her Father Brought the Vietnam War Home

by Ruth Clare

Viking $32.99 pb, 309 pp, 9780670079074

Carol Middleton

Carol Middleton

Carol Middleton is a journalist, arts critic and author, based in Melbourne. Her short story awards include second place in

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Growing up with a violent and controlling father who served in the Vietnam War may be a familiar story, but Ruth Clare's memoir takes us deeper, into the mind of the child and her day-to-day reality, where she is constantly primed for her father's next act of cruelty. Resembling a novel in its sensory detail and riveting narrative, Enemy recreates life in Rockhampton, where Clare grew up in the 1970s and 1980s.

In recent years, the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder has made sense of the psychological damage to Vietnam veterans. But when Clare was a child, there was no such understanding. Her mother bore the brunt of the father's aggression, with devastating effects, but Clare learned to be more resilient. Her strength came at a price. She was in a constant state of hyper-vigilance, not unlike her father's readiness for enemy attack.

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Published in May 2016, no. 381