Current book: The Naked and the Dead
Pages read: 1-99
We're in the midst of a company of American soldiers on a ship in the Pacific during World War II. At first, they're waiting to storm a small Japanese-held island, which they subsequently do. There's a lot of buildup to the actual landing on the beach, but it turns out that when they arrive, the fighting is either nonexistent or located entirely inland. They set up camp.
That's really all that's happened as far as the plot goes, but we've met a wide cast of characters that includes the strategically gifted but annoying General, the bloodthirsty Captain, the whiny noncom who thinks the entire war is a conspiracy against him, the downtrodden Jewish clerk-turned-infantryman, and the hardworking Latino scout. I think Norman Mailer might be responsible for the popularity of the "ethnically diverse company of soldiers" plot device in modern film. Or maybe he's just copying it, too.
Why do people enjoy reading books about war? I really don't understand the impulse. I mean, Norman Mailer is a really good writer; he's doing an excellent job with the prose and the subtle characterizations of the soldiers he's portraying. And yet, every time I get to a part where they're slogging through the jungle in the darkness and heat and confusion, I am both put off and bored at the same time. Explain to me the attraction of this kind of thing. Really!
Also, there's lots of talking about sex and swearing, but I have to say that I consider it simple realism and am not at all bothered by it. (That sounded sarcastic, but I didn't mean it to, I swear.)
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