I was a little impatient with this slow-moving story at first, but in the end was glad that I stayed with it. It’s a warm, comfortable story of people who are adrift at the end of a relationship, who find one another and begin anew. It’s not a Romance, but it is a story of love in its many forms. It was a little like a book form of those sweet, staid BBC and PBS shows that seem to mostly feature nice people sitting and talking, or walking and talking, with just enough offscreen drama to keep it interesting. I can see why so many people enjoy this story as an annual holiday comfort read.
Audiobook, via Audible. Lynn Redgrave provides an okay performance – it’s possible that this book needed someone a little more lively to spark it up.
I read this for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, and I will be using it as the Holiday Book Joker for Square 9 December 21st: Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere, also known as Yaldā Night in Iran. The same day is the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, giving them the longest day of the year. This book takes place during the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday, but the key turning point takes place on the evening of the winter solstice.
This is a fascinating collection of Bill Mauldin’s cartoons, drawn while serving as an infantryman, then later as part of the press corps for the US Army in Europe during WWII. The cartoons are accompanied by the personal stories and recollections behind their inspiration and creation. These cartoons wouldn’t have made much sense to me, otherwise, having never served in the military or had family who served during WWII. He tells his stories with humor and empathy, but does not pull punches in describing the infantryman’s experience on the front lines of the war – fear and hunger and exhaustion and foxholes and trench foot and screaming meemie bombs and butterfly bombs and potato mashers. But he also speaks of courage and camaraderie and duty and brotherhood, the sort of commitment that keeps the men together and fighting their common enemy. And in this book, the common enemy is the German soldier, and Mauldin is explicit in describing the GI’s point of view.
Some shells scream, some whiz, some whistle, and others whir. Most flat-trajectory shells sound like rapidly ripped canvas. Howitzer shells seem to have a two-toned whisper.
Let’s get the hell off this subject.
It would take a pretty tough guy not to feel his heart go out to the shivering, little six-year-old squeaker who stands barefoot in the mud, holding a big tin bucket so the dogface can empty his mess kit into it… But there is a big difference between the ragged, miserable infantryman who waits with his mess kit, and the ragged, miserable civilian who waits with his bucket. The doggie knows where his next meal is coming from. That makes him a very rich man in this land where hunger is so fierce it makes animals out of respectable old ladies who should be wearing cameos and having tea parties instead of fighting one another savagely for a soldier’s scraps.
They go on patrol when patrols are called for, and they don’t shirk hazards, because they don’t want to let their buddies down. The army couldn’t get along without them, either. Although it needs men to do the daring deeds, it also needs me who have the quiet courage to stick in their foxholes and fight and kill even though they hate killing and are scared to death while doing it.
They are very different now. Don’t let anybody tell you they aren’t. They need a lot of people speaking for them and telling about them – not speaking for fancy bonuses and extra privileges. You can’t pay in money for what they have done. They need people telling about them so that they will be taken back into their civilian lives and given a chance to be themselves again.
Hardcover edition, loaned to me by my father. I read this for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 3 November 11th. Book themes for Veterans Day/Armistice Day: Read a book involving veterans of any war, books about WWI or WWII (fiction or non-fiction). –OR– Read a book with poppies on the cover.
I had heard so much about this book that I’ve really been looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t connect with it. I understand that it’s semi-autobiographical, so it must be an accurate portrayal of a 14-year-old boy’s thoughts and concerns. And teenage boys are a little bit gross. So maybe that’s why I was a bit put off by it – the MC’s relationships with and reactions to the female characters are definitely off-putting, no matter how realistic, and the humor, while perhaps accurate to the 14-year-old protagonist, is also juvenile. But the story itself is both funny and sad, that of a boy living on the “rez” and dealing with the fallout of asking to transfer to a town school where he will be the only non-white student. The book doesn’t pull punches in portraying alcoholism, violence, bullying, tribalism, and racism. It’s a lot to pack into a relatively short book. But the ending contains a redeeming message of hope, too, which helps to rescue a story that threatens to sink under the weight of these heavy themes.
Hardcover version. I read this book for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 11: December 21st-22nd. Soyal (December 21st) is the winter solstice ceremony of the Zuni and the Hopi (Hopitu Shinumu), The Peaceful Ones, also known as the Hopi Indians. It is held on the shortest day of the year to ceremonially bring the sun back from its long winter slumber. Book themes for Soyal: Read a book set in the American Southwest / the Four Corners States (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), –OR– a book that has a Native American protagonist. This book fits the square, as the main character is Native American.
I’ve never read the original story, and I am disappointed because I was under the impression that the two books were packaged together, based on the foreword and the reviews placed highest on the Audible website, but apparently they’ve now split the two books and must be purchased separately.
Still, I enjoyed the Scalzi reboot very much on its own, without reference to the 1963 version. This is what those goofy ewoks should have been. Figuring out what’s going on with the main character, Jack Holloway, and his motivations kept me engaged with the plot, which is a little heavier on the legal intrigue than I usually care for, and I sincerely appreciate that Scalzi includes a strong, smart, independent female character who,
in spite of having had a past romantic relationship with the MC, does not serve as a love-interest or in any way feature as a sexual object for him or the reader.
Audiobook, via Audible. Wil Wheaton provides a fantastic performance for the readings. Although he doesn’t attempt a lot of unique “voices” for the different characters, he reads with spirit, humor, and excellent pacing, and I’m never in any doubt as to which character is speaking.
I read this book for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 12: December 23rd: Book themes for Saturnalia: The god Saturn has a planet named after him; read any work of science fiction that takes place in space. –OR– Read a book celebrating free speech. –OR– A book revolving around a very large party, or ball, or festival, –OR– a book with a mask or masks on the cover. –OR– a story where roles are reversed. I do have a ruling from the game overlords that an extraterrestrial setting counts as “in space”.
ALSO: This book would have fit a couple of other hard-to-capture squares: