Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Call by Yannick Murphy

The Call: A Novel

What a pity I didn't post about this wonderful book when I read it last October. I liked it very much. I liked it's odd format--a call log of problems the veternarian needs to solve, and his thoughts and responses to those problems. I was reading slowly and at odd moments in those days of October, and I remember thinking that this was the perfect format for a flaky frame of mind. I liked hearing a man of science, a husband, and a father mention what mattered to him about his daily life, and how he viewed his wife's reactions. It made me think about how men think. And I was interested to hear how vets solve some of the problems they encounter (or cause themselves).

But what gave the whole some depth was the agonizing blow the family received one fall day and how they dealt with the uncertainty and confusion that ensued. Sleepless nights and sweaty dreams are easier to read about than go through, but the whole dilemma kept me reading in wonder and anxiety.

On the whole, I thought the book daring and successful, humane and real. Good job, Yannick Murphy!

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

The End of Major Combat Operations by Nick McDonell

The End of Major Combat Operations

Nick McDonell was not a name I recognized, and this dry-as-dust title hardly inspired dreams of an absorbing read. But from the first pages I recognized this as something unusual. Written with a novelist’s eye and flair, it is reportage on the lives of the (mostly) men, and women that served in Iraq at the end of U.S. operations there. It almost seemed like homage to those soldiers, the telling of their stories. Not all was good, but it felt true and real. There are no extra words. McDonell didn’t pad it with theory or background; he just tells it like it looked to him.

Leaving a theatre of war is hard. It tends to stay with one, stuck on one’s skin and in one’s mind. Soldiers that hated the place, and/or loved the camaraderie, who nevertheless find themselves curious now about how it looked at the time of the turnover, and what they were missing, will find remembrance here, and true things. They will laugh at those things that frustrated them, cringe at the things that reflect their baser moments, and be grateful that such a skilled writer took the time to tell their story with such sensitivity. And they may just do as I did—read everything the man has written to date to understand how he was able to write such simple-seeming sentences that carry so much clarity and meaning and weight. Kudos, McDonell.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores