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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

War fiction from Troy to Afghanistan - first person? or based on research?

Giving Kate Atkinson props here for her war chapter - as noted in yesterday's post it was obvious she was building toward this - Teddy's War 1944, in which we get the first real glimpse of how the war experience formed the personality of the central character in A God in Ruins, Toddy Todd; we follow him, out of sequence, over the course of his whole life, but the deeper we get and the more knowledge we build the more we recognize that the 2 most important segments - his war years (he was a bomber pilot) and the death of his wife, Nancy, are the central elements. I wondered what Atkinson could bring to this game that was new - there's been so damn much written about WWII, still being written (and filmed), amazingly. But this chapter is among the tops - I've never read anything that put me so definitively aboard a plan in combat. There of course has been great writing about every war, from Troy to Afghanistan, but most of the writing has been by combatants -almost always men, or always until recently I guess - but there are a few great works about war by non-combatants - Crane comes to mind tho I haven't read him in years, more recently Stuart O'Nan on Vietnam and Richard Flanagan (had to look up his name) and Narrow Road to the Deep North (about WWII in Burma) - and Atkinson takes her place among them as war writer based on he research and imagination: the seams of the research never show, if you didn't know it was impossible you'd think she had this info first-hand. Very powerful writing in a fine, if somewhat sprawling, novel - but I have faith that the various strands will come together and inform one another as I move toward the 2nd half of the book.

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