Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Tale of Two Books (Book Review)

I've read countless books on the subjects of politics & war & I've found most of them interesting at some level but few have touched me & few have left me with absolutely nothing.

In this tale of two books, I read one of each category. Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" grabbed me by the throat while Nicole Wallace's "Eighteen Acres" was an un-adulterated waste of my time.

Why do these seemingly 'useless' books ever get published? Especially now when publishing a BOOK seems like a luxury. Why spend the publishing capital to bring out something like "Eighteen Acres", the story about a female president with a female cabinet who's husband has an affair, her favorite white house correspondent has an affair..... with the President's husband, etc, etc, etc. The story brought nothing -- including political issues -- to the table of life except "escapism" whose very existence must be explained by its popularity. I just don't get it.

On the other hand there are novelists who weave serious, practical, realistic, emotional, meaningful situations into their story telling. 
Tim O'brien's "The Things They Carried" is one such book. It's the story of Alpha Company in War. There's no philosophizing, no lecturing, hectoring or moralizing. It's just the story of Alpha Company, what they carried with them into war, what these things meant to them & the struggle the author had telling this tale.

It's an extraordianary work, recognized by the Pulitzer Committee, the National Book Critics Circle & other such elite organizations. It may even be assigned reading for some students. 
For me it was a down to earth emotional trip. It carried me into another reality, made me think, feel & wonder about the versatility of the human spirit while the state plunders the human body & soul.

If you haven't read this book, please do. If you see "Eighteen Acres" on the shelf, don't make it one of the books you carry out of the store with you.

Other Books by Tim O"Brien
  • Going After Cacciato
  • Lake of the Woods
  • Tomcat in Love
  • If I die in a Combat Zone
  • July, July
Other Books by Nicolle Wallace (thankfully)

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