Monthly Archives: March, 2014

On Two Fronts

On Two Fronts by Sgt. Adam Fenner and Lance Taubold

Copyright 2013 by 13Thirty Books

Rating:  * * *

Sgt. Adam Fenner, deployed as a medic to Afghanistan with the Nevada National Guard, and his friend at home, Lance Taubold, write about their separate experiences of the deployment.  The book, written largely during the deployment, consists of each of them writing chapters in their own style and from their own perspective.  The story concludes shortly after Adam’s return from Afghanistan.

I love the asides:  notes from Adam included in a chapter by Lance, and vice versa.  Often as simple as [Adam:  Eye roll], the interactions make me chuckle.  Lance’s splashy style contrasts with Adam’s pragmatism, making an interesting combination.

Lance is in patriotic, save-the-world mode from start to finish, as a way to support Adam.  Adam is more matter-of-fact, only showing depth of emotion at one point, in the form of disillusionment following an explosion in a village thought to be friendly.  Adam’s chapters convey mind-numbing boredom interspersed with fierce activity, which he indicates is usual for deployments.  He speaks in broad terms about friendship and love, but rarely displays the emotion with which Lance’s chapters vibrate.  Lance deals more directly with the fears and feelings of separation experienced by those at home, the things Adam downplays or puts out of mind in order to focus on the here and now in a combat zone.

I struggle with the timeline in the book, sometimes unable to determine what is present day and what is being recounted from earlier.  All in all, an interesting read.

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

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Of Course I Talk To Myself

Of Course I Talk To Myself. Sometimes I Need Expert Advice.

Death on the Barrens

Barrens

Death on the Barrens:  A True Story of Courage and Tragedy in the Canadian Arctic

by George James Grinnell

First published January 1, 2009 by North Atlantic Books

Rating:  * * *

The author, one of six young men on an ill-advised, poorly planned Arctic trip in the 1950s resulting in the death of the trip leader, recounts the experience from the distance of 50 years.

This is a memoir, not an autobiography.  Rather than focusing on the events of the trip, the book is about the participants:  their hubris, expectations, hopes, fears, anxieties, and reactions to the changing conditions throughout the journey.  As should be expected, the author’s experience is front and center, with descriptions of the other participants adding context.  Grinnell strays into rants from time to time, but since the chapters are all quite short it’s easy to move on.

This is a quick read that will leave you shaking your head.  I recommend reading it.

If you like this book, you may also like Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.

Seems Legit

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Rating:  * * *

I love the title.  It’s difficult to resist a book whose title makes such delicious promises.

This book is a slide show:  here is A.J., recently widowed, grieving, crotchety; here is Amelia, new sales rep on the bookstore’s account; here is Maya, abandoned in the bookstore; here are Maya and A.J. and Amelia together.

As each slide appears, we accept on faith that what we see is true.  There is no way to verify; character development occurs between slides.  We see snapshots of the bookstore, its patrons and townsfolk, until we arrive at the end of the slide show, back at the beginning.

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Ukraine or The Ukraine?

With Ukrainian events much in the news lately, it occurs to me to wonder why I always think of Ukraine as The Ukraine.  I’m not alone, apparently.  Officially the name of the country is Ukraine – no “The.”  See this informative BBC article for more info.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18233844

So now we know!

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