If you choose to spend your Memorial Day Weekend reading, here are a few novels you might consider.
Charles Frazier's debut novel, set in the Civil War-era rural South, follows the quest of wounded Confederate soldier Inman. Having seen the horrors of battle, Inman leaves his post and begins a long walk home to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Ada, Inman’s love, struggles with war-time realities on the home front as societal norms change with the destructions and hardships of war.
As the great conflict comes to an end, Inman and Ada, at last, find each other, but the realities of war and violence promises to change them both forever.
BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK
This 2012 book by Ben Fountain is a sharp satire that points a harsh finger at the politicians and companies hoping to capitalize on the very real people of our military forces.
Iraq war soldiers, home for a brief leave, are given a hero’s welcome during the Super Bowl. Through the eyes of our main character, Billy Lynn, we see the boisterous and the absurd as sincere feelings and emotions mix with opportunism.
ALL QUIET on the WESTERN FRONT
Erich Maria Remarque, a veteran of WWI, wrote about the brutal details of war. The story follows an ordinary man; a German soldier on the Western front during WWI named Paul. The tale presents the ugly reality soldiers faced every day. It also details the horrific toll war takes on both the physical and mental.
We see Paul swing from enthusiastic and patriotic in the face of coming war to broken and sad in the reality. This classic reflects on an entire generation, once full of hope, beaten by conflict. This title is considered by many, a true anti-war story.
Slaughterhouse Five is Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 anti-war novel. Though we are presented with Vonnegut’s personal experiences as a prisoner of war during the bombing of Dresden in World War II, this novel is largely told from the perspective of fictional character, Billy Pilgrim. Billy bounces through time and we see important moments in his life, however most of the book takes place in Europe during WWII. Through the futility and brutality of his own imprisonment and the characterizations of the people he confronted at the time, Vonnegut clearly outlines the useless nature of war.