Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Down With The Rain

Let me start by saying that this part of the book, Kiowa's death and all the parts that related back to it, have been the most difficult to swallow. Previously, I was never much bothered by O'Brien's thin web of lies and truths. I found myself taking his stories as fact without much hesitation, and accepting them as fiction when he shed light on their false nature just as easily. However, there was something that kept me from going with the punches this time around. I think it was partly because he tells you this same story over and over again in all sorts of different ways for forty-eight pages straight.

First, it was Norman Bowker who couldn't pull Kiowa's body out of the mud fast enough to save his life, and so he gave up and let the man sink into the muck. Then O'Brien adds another layer to the story by telling you why he felt he had to write that story into this book. Bowker's tragic tale about needing to speak out to alleviate the guilt he felt about being unable to save his friend's life makes the story seem even more 'real', despite the fact that you know these character's aren't actually 'real' themselves. O'Brien goes on to further your emotional attachment to this particular tale by retelling it. Only this time, he decides to tell you that it was a nameless solider who failed to pry that boot from the mud pit. I had to go back and reread that part three times. I just could swallow it. I had no problem with O'Brien coming right out and saying that several parts of the story were not factual. I understood where he was coming from. I understood why the story needed to be told in this sort of deceptive way, and could therefore accept it. I couldn't understand why he would write the same story, completely change major details, and then not even space it out at all. Had he slide a few sections in between them, I probably wouldn't have even questioned it. I wouldn't have seen a need to. But him putting the stories practically back to back makes me think there had to be a reason he wanted you to see the differences. Maybe to further your distrust in him? I'm not really sure. It became even more frustrating for me in Good Form when he comes right out and reminds you that almost none of the previous tales were factually true. I think even that could have been forgivable, if he hadn't written Field Trip immediately after Good Form. I found myself wondering more about why he was becoming so untactful in his lies more so than concentrating on the story. It was a complete 360 to how I had been approaching the book, and I found it difficult to concentrate on the plot-line of Kiowa's death. It wasn't until after O'Brien had moved on to talk about gun wounds that I could fully immerse myself back into the story. I'm still completely baffled by why O'Brien chose to do this.

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