Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo

This is a novel that never takes the easy way out; it is shocking, violent, terrifying, horrible, uncompromising, brutal, remorseless and gruesome... but so is war.

There are books I feel strongly about keeping on hand. It's a straightforward list to invent and append: Ulysses, Moby Dick, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. Admittedly overlong, it runs into books I love (Nine Stories) and others I do not (Fountainhead) but recognize are dear to others. In the end, it's about making sure we never sell out of a tidy garden of personal classics. When I first began to comb through fiction, ticking off titles, I noticed this was missing. It's here now, along with Catch-22 and Homage to Catalonia, three books that make for a solid foundation to any wartime reading list. Of the three, this is the most brutal read, about a soldier in the hospital after a shell blast, prisoner in his own body. The story is most familiar to a number of people through footage from the 1971 film adaptation that appears in the music video for Metallica's "One".

Incidentally, Trumbo was responsible for the screenplay of Lonely Are The Brave, which is basically the greatest movie ever.

1 comment:

David said...

O, Lonely Are the Brave, you are Walter Matthau's finest hour. He does have a lot of hours.

Also, Trumbo wrote a ton of stuff, before, after, and during being blacklisted for having pinko tendencies. Spartacus, for example.