Saturday, December 03, 2005


Last week's post was the opening line from Camus' The Stranger. And as Ms. Clair was so good to mention, I frequently point out, when inanely asked about the differences between literary and commercial (non-literary?) fiction, that Camus found his inspiration for The Stranger from James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice. So stick that in your beret.

Book of the week: recommended to me by director pal John Moore (who shot Behind Enemy Lines, which deals with the Serbian/Croatian/Muslim/not-UN war) - MY WAR GONE BY, I MISS IT SO, by Anthony Lloyd. It deserves to be mentioned with Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and Herr's Dispatches (one of the sources of Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket). It is THAT good. A stunning, ironic, wry memoir of Lloyd's search for war (while he's kicking a heroin habit, no less). It is simply magnificent writing.

I recommended it to my longtime friend Jess Taylor, who had this to write about it:

" akin (though I would hardly know) to descending rapidly in a submarine to escape depth charges, all the while having those dropping them calculate your rate of descent, so the explosions follow you, and your sub implodes a bit more with each blast.

Remember that riveting part in which he [Lloyd] hears from a group of Croatian soldiers? How they spent a half-day trying to get their commander, a young, small-town athlete (and war criminal) out from under enemy (Bosnian Muslim) fire when he was wounded and down in a field. More men kept trying to rescue him, and getting killed. Finally the commander lying out in the field draws his pistol, puts it to his head, and kills himself.
As the soldier relating the episode summarizes-- 'There are two ways to die here. You can die doing the right thing for the wrong reason, or die doing the wrong thing for the right reason.'"

The above line that Jess picked out is one of my favorites, though there are many more gems in this brilliant book.

1 comment:

devlandiablo said...

In regards to My War Gone By by Lloyd- I would also agree that there are many more gems in this book. I actually had to read it for my 20th Century European History class, and I got sucked in- read it straight through in one night, then reread it again the next day. It is such a good book; his wordplay, his imagery... I am in awe of his portrayals. A similar book dealing with war, though WWI and not the Serb-Croat conflict, is Pat Barker's Regeneration. MWGB is such a good book, I would certainly recommend it to anyone that can stomach it. Favorite quotes:
1. “At the time of Endre’s words, I had been in the city only a short while and still knew almost nothing of way though the subsequent days queued packed in line to throw their rocks into the still pool of my naivete.” (11-12)
2. This one is in regards to the war and his drug habits, how they are both conflicts, and the flotsam one uses when on the surface of the river to hold on to before taking another breath and going down for another dive (58).