O’Brien, Tim. If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home. Crown, 1999. ISBN 978-0767904438 240 pp. $17
I just read Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam memoir called If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home. This book starts with O’Brien’s enlistment into the Army after seriously considering escaping to Canada during the draft. He then chronicles his experiences in bootcamp and the basic training he received in Vietnam before heading out to the jungle. Then, it’s all war.
I can’t really describe this book. It’s horrifying and terrifying and gut wrenching. Again, I can see clearly why Vietnam Veterans are so reluctant to talk about their war experiences. It’s not real life or anything you can explain to someone who hasn’t been through it. I’m so glad that there are people like Tim O’Brien who can speak the unspeakable so those of us that weren’t there can better understand the Vietnam/American war experience.
Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Vintage Contemporaries, 2004. ISBN 978-1400032716 226 pp. $15
I just finished reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Reading this book was quite an experience. Christopher, an autistic teen, discovers his neighbor’s dog dead when he is out for a night-time walk. But the dog is not just dead, it’s been killed with a garden fork. Christopher decides he will find the murderer. We start detecting with Christopher and all his quirks and brains and difficulties in relating to others. Although I really liked this book because it was so unusual and had a great narrator, I was disappointed with the other characters. I thought there could have been a lot more character development. Maybe this is deliberate though, since the narrator has such difficulty relating to others… I don’t know… I wanted more from the co-stars of the story.