I agree, a great novel . . .

Based on this post, I got and am almost through the novel and have to agree. It is rather amazing lyrical writing and conveys what loss in war, combat, and PTSD must really be like. There may not be a surfeit of plot but in the open spaces the reader’s own imagination works. One can see Hemingway’s influence, positively, but it’s no imitation—Richard Gilbert

THE LITERARY MAN

Today, I finished what history may eventually deem to be one of the most important books of our time.

The last decade has been one of dramatic upheaval filled with times of immense sorrow, fear, panic, anger, and strife. Our lives changed, as a nation and as a world, on September 11th, 2001. On that day, our collective American conscience moved quickly toward deeply rooted terror and sadness. Many books have tried to capture the pain in the aftermath of that day. Some are exemplary, like NETHERLAND by Joesph O’Neill and EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE by Jonathan Safran Foer. Although they are not finite in all that they encompass, they manage to capture some of the trauma that our nation experienced in those early years of the twenty-first century. These books manage to bottle up the pieces and give the reader a sudden shock of recognition and remembrance as the pages are…

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9 Comments

Filed under fiction, REVIEW

9 responses to “I agree, a great novel . . .

  1. When you say “There may not be a surfeit of plot, but in the open spaces the reader’s own imagination works” (etc.), I think you are quite right, both contemporarily and traditionally. Henry James was all in favor of letting the reader’s imagination respond to fright, terror, etc., to fill in “the open spaces.” Of course, he was talking about his short story “The Turn of the Screw,” but the principle probably works in many different kinds of works. He wasn’t called “The Master” for nothing.

  2. I’ll put this on my list!

    I was just talking to my mass media students the other day about the popularity of TV shows that convey a “moral ambiguity.” This type of media has really taken off in the past decade, and it’s no wonder. We devour media that question black-and-white ideas of right and wrong. It sounds like YELLOW BIRDS is a great example of this.

  3. Thanks, Richard. I have just ordered Yellow Birds.

  4. Jennifer S

    I liked the review and may read the book… though I’m a coward with this type of writing. It can be so incredibly painful to read. In WWII, my father-in-law took out a German sniper’s nest, alone… received the Silver Star… and never spoke of it. I know it’s time to try and understand what young soldiers go through… not to mention the civilians attempting to live in the combat zone.

    • I know what you mean, Jennifer. My favorite uncle was a special forces hero in WWII and suffered from PTSD his whole life. When I was in college, he’d get drunk and tell me things he did and saw that haunted him. I don’t think anybody escapes PTSD in some degree who served in combat.

  5. When I read the NYTBR of this novel, I immediately requested it from the library (okay I should have bought it but…), where I will have to wait my turn. I can’t think of more important subject matter and it is great that it obviously has the right writer to do it justice.

    • I checked it out, too, Paulette. I may end up buying it—it’s worth having in one’s library and rereading. It is a very good novel, maybe great, surely lasting, but having finished it I’m unsure I’d call it the greatest book of the decade. It is beautifully written and does give an understanding of what war is like and what it does to soldiers.