Abandoned Books

Reviews of books and authors not much discussed on the web.

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Quick Look: James Jones

Yeah, I know, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this thing. Hey, I was sick.
Anyway, Jones. I read From Here to Eternity -- at least as much of it as I could get through -- and The Thin Red Line -- ditto -- awhile back. I found Jones a frustrating experience.

He’s frustrating because he’s so damn good in miniature. Parts of both books are just extremely good, so good that you can’t quite believe you’re reading something that good -- but it just fails to cohere as a whole.

Since my rhythm’s all off this is going to have to be shorter than I intended, as I don’t even have my copy of From Here anymore to refer to. Originally I intended this to be a rather long piece, as I think Jones, while by no means a good writer, is an extremely interesting writer to look at, particularly in an historical context. But well, hell’s bells and all that. We work with what’s given us.

From Here has a drive and push and an authenticity which feels wholly lacking in somebody like Irwin Shaw, who’s The Young Lions, while it has it’s virtues, does feel like an upscale Boho’s feeling of What War Must Be Really Like. In short bursts it’s a wonderful book -- the scene in the bordello, the fake marriage of the officer and his wife (see, I don’t have the book here, I can’t even remember their names), the slow torture of Prewitt when he refuses to join up the boxing brigade, etc. This is all great stuff.

But it’s all in the service of this: “Will Prewitt join the boxing team or not?” Yes, I know Jones tries to imbue this with some kind of mythic significance, that it’s some kind of eternal battle writ small. Yeah, yeah, I get it. That doesn’t change the primary fact that in the “real world” of the book, we’re asked to participate in an epic about Whether or Not Prewitt Will Join the Boxing Squad. I mean, a lot of fuss and bother about not much of anything.

And yeah, I get the idea that the eventual Pearl Harbor attack makes this all sort of meaningless, too. But that just butresses my point: I’m being asked to devote almost a thousand pages to pointlessness, when you get right down to it, and at the end of the day I’m asked to celebrate the giant waste of time this involved.

It’s frustrating. It’s like being roped into a club being promised Live! Naked! Girls! and discovering all you get is a Borscht Belt comedian. It’s like staying up late to watch a Shannon Tweed movie but she doesn’t get naked. All tease, no follow-through.

I’ve been reading a lot of novels from this period (immediate post WW2) and I plan on reading a lot more, and I’ve become absolutely convinced that the besetting sin of this era was the English Class attempt to write The Great American Novel. A hopelessly middlebrow project, and writers inevitably crashed on the shoals of this mirage. People were so interested in writing something meaningful they lost their focus on writing something good.

From Here to Eternity would’ve worked much better as a series of short stories, this is a collection of small ideas that is simply afflicted with hardcore bloat.

The Thin Red Line actually has a storyline all wrapped up and handed to it -- it’s about the battle of Guadalcanal, or as near as dammit, anyway. And it’s better than Eternity, at least it’s about something real and important. And as always, Jones’s view of the army, and of war, and of what men do there seems dead-on accurate. I also particularly like Jones’s use of pov here: there is no one set protagonist -- the brigade itself is the protagonist -- and Jones travels like God over all of them, dipping into their minds when he needs to. It’s quite smart, and rather more sophisticated than the rather off-the-rack structure of Eternity (which even features two straightup love stories, one done reasonably well, one shoehorned in and, well, not so much.)

But I ended up giving up on this one, too. It seemed to me that Jones has his say in about the first hundred pages or so -- and after that it goes on, and on, and on, restating the same damn thing over and over again. It too suffers from bloat, just not as much. Line would’ve worked better as a novella, I think. (Or novelette. Do they still call them that?) I would’ve ended things after the attack on the Elephant, myself.

Jones was a small talent trying to conform to the market and sociological realities of his day; he’s an interesting example of how an artist who doesn’t really understand himself can be subsumed by the world around him. There are nuggets of value in these books, but I think in general Jones has to be considered a failed writer. His vision feels too compromised.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello there, I found your web site by the use of Google even as searching for
a similar topic, your website came up, it seems great.
I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

Hello there, just changed into aware of your blog
via Google, and found that it's truly informative. I'm going to
watch out for brussels. I'll be grateful when you proceed this in future.

A lot of people will likely be benefited out of your writing.

Also visit my webpage - black mold testing michigan

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent way of explaining, and fastidious post to obtain information about my presentation focus, which i am going to convey in academy.

Look at my web blog ... black mold removal

3:20 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

nike outlet, polo outlet, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp outlet, prada outlet, michael kors outlet, nike free, tory burch outlet, michael kors outlet store, uggs outlet, christian louboutin outlet, jordan shoes, oakley sunglasses wholesale, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, nike air max, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet, prada handbags, polo ralph lauren outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp outlet, christian louboutin, burberry outlet, louis vuitton outlet, ugg boots, gucci handbags, nike air max, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton, tiffany and co, louis vuitton, christian louboutin shoes, uggs on sale, replica watches, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, ugg boots, replica watches, christian louboutin uk, burberry handbags, michael kors outlet online, tiffany jewelry, uggs outlet

11:16 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

coach outlet, sac hermes, nike tn, louboutin pas cher, jordan pas cher, new balance, sac longchamp pas cher, true religion outlet, hogan outlet, michael kors pas cher, hollister pas cher, air max, nike roshe, longchamp pas cher, timberland pas cher, hollister uk, burberry pas cher, coach outlet, lululemon canada, nike blazer pas cher, true religion outlet, polo lacoste, ray ban pas cher, coach outlet store online, north face, michael kors outlet, nike air max, guess pas cher, kate spade, chanel handbags, ray ban uk, nike free run, kate spade outlet, true religion outlet, oakley pas cher, true religion jeans, north face uk, sac vanessa bruno, michael kors, converse pas cher, nike air force, coach purses, michael kors, vans pas cher, polo ralph lauren

11:21 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

polo lacoste, sac vanessa bruno, ray ban pas cher, hollister pas cher, nike free run, nike air force, michael kors, north face, hogan outlet, coach purses, oakley pas cher, new balance, sac longchamp pas cher, nike air max, coach outlet, true religion jeans, chanel handbags, north face uk, polo ralph lauren, kate spade, longchamp pas cher, michael kors, coach outlet, timberland pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, burberry pas cher, true religion outlet, louboutin pas cher, nike tn, nike roshe, sac hermes, air max, lululemon canada, jordan pas cher, guess pas cher, vans pas cher, true religion outlet, converse pas cher, true religion outlet, kate spade outlet, michael kors outlet, ray ban uk, coach outlet store online, michael kors pas cher, hollister uk

11:28 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

hollister, louis vuitton, montre pas cher, pandora jewelry, links of london, louis vuitton, thomas sabo, lancel, louis vuitton, coach outlet, louboutin, hollister, replica watches, nike air max, converse, vans, doke gabbana, michael kors outlet, ugg, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, supra shoes, pandora jewelry, louis vuitton, pandora uk, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, ralph lauren, swarovski crystal, swarovski, karen millen uk, juicy couture outlet, oakley, ray ban, converse outlet, ugg pas cher, louis vuitton, michael kors outlet online, gucci, michael kors handbags, ugg uk, iphone 6 cases, juicy couture outlet, timberland boots, pandora charms, wedding dresses, toms shoes, marc jacobs

11:34 PM  
Blogger 艾丰 said...

nike soccer shoes
coach outlet,coach outlet online,coach outlet store
true religion jeans,cheap true religion jeans,true religion jeans wholesale,true religion outlet,true religion sale,true religion outlet online
oakley sunglasses wholesale
michael kors handbags sale
ugg boots
oakley sunglasses cheap
ray ban sunglasses outlet,ray ban usa,ray ban sunglasses,ray ban,rayban,ray bans,rayban sunglasses,cheap ray ban,ray ban outlet,ray-ban,raybans,ray ban wayfarer,ray-ban sunglasses
barbour clothing
nba jerseys wholesale
oakland raiders
hollister shirts
michael kors handbags clearance
michael kors handbags wholesale
michael kors uk
canada goose outlet
true religion jeans
ysl outlet online
chanel outlet store online
pittsburgh steelers
san antonio spurs
louis vuitton bags on sale
longchamp outlet online
cheap ray ban sunglasses
canada goose sale
calvin klein,calvin klein outlet online,calvin klein wholesale,calvin klein shoes,calvin klein underwear,calvin klein coats,calvin klein handbags
michael kors outlet sale
tory burch handbags
prada handbags
puma shoes
michael kors handbags wholesale

12:54 AM  
Blogger mmjiaxin said...

canada goose jackets
swarovski crystal
michael kors online outlet
kobe shoes
kate spade uk outlet
canada goose jackets
hermes outlet store
prada outlet
cleveland cavaliers
kate spade outlet
giuseppe zanotti outlet
michael kors canada
michael kors outlet sale
ferragamo outlet
ugg boots outlet,ugg outlet
belstaff outlet
ysl outlet
ugg outlet
coach outlet online
nfl jerseys

1:19 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


7:42 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

fitflops sale clearance
kobe 11
kobe shoes
adidas ultra boost
nike air force
yeezy boost
true religion jeans
chrome hearts online
cheap jordans
nike huarache

10:12 PM  
Blogger omar ail said...

Your site is very helpful

6:50 AM  
Blogger office.com/setup said...

Office Helpline Number





office.com/setup is a product of office setup. Get Support if you face problem to activate www.office.com/setup activate install Microsoft Office product.

2:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home