Because theoretical political science articles are making my brain numb, I’ve decided to make myself feel a little bit human by talking about some awesome (and some not-so-awesome) books I read this summer, back when I had that luxury. Even though I read a whole bunch, I’m only going to talk about 1 each time, maybe that way if I want to take this subject up again, I can just talk about the other books I read! So brace yourself, here is the first installment of:
SOME SWEET BOOKS I READ THIS SUMMER: PART 1
1. Timothy Findley – The Wars
Since I’ve started working for the GG and we got copious amounts of breaks during May-June, I decided to tackle some books that won the Governor General’s Literary Award – mostly because that way I could say it was ‘research’ for my tour, but also because I do not read nearly enough Canadian Lit. The book itself, personally to me, was one of the best re-tellings of World War I that I’ve ever read. Most of the novels that I’ve read surrounding this issue either don’t go nearly enough into the war, or go way too far. Generals Die In Bed serves as a great example of this. Obviously, the war was that horrible and gruesome, but it’s nice to have at least a little bit of censorship.
This novel tackles a young man, originally well-off from Southern Ontario who enlists as an officer in the army to get over the death of his hydrocephalic sister. (I know right, heavy shit) What grabbed me the most was the story’s relationship to earth, air, water, and fire. Findley managed to link the man’s journey from Canada to the battlefields of Western Europe through each element, making the war itself an elemental struggle. (Sorry, that part of me that wanted to be an English major is leaking out left and right.) Terrifying scene: when Ross (main character) almost drowns in the mud and blood of the battlefield; people I’m talking about literally drowning, none of this figurative shit.
Another sweet thing about this book is that’s is narrated by a historian trying to find out about Robert Ross, so you get scenes with the unnamed historian interviewing a crazy old British lady who knew Ross through the war and now lives above an office building because she refused to let the government take her home, talking mostly about afternoon tea and how she likes to listen to church bells. Trust, it aint as boring as I just made it sound.
Bar none, this has got to by my favourite war book I’ve read so far. And I suggest that everyone read it, especially since it’s Canadian too!
(One that funny thing, when I was trying to find a picture of the book jacket, this picture came up: