Books: Slice-of-Death

THE BARKING DEER by JONATHAN RUBIN 335 pages. George Braziller. $7.95.

Can fiction do anything for the war in Viet Nam that ten years of TV film clips and a torrent of journalism did not? After all the surfeits of that war—the distant carnage, the fallout of casualties closer to home, the national agony of consciousness and political dislocation in the U.S.—can the imagination of a storyteller offer anything more than a few slice-of-death memories?

Those who believe in the truths of fiction have always been sure that enough talent could work such magic, and...