Archive for struggle

BILLY LYNN’S HALFTIME WALK By Ben Fountain – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2015 by stanleyriiks

On the cover it says this is the Catch 22 of the Iraq War, and it probably is. Ever since that seminal book was written every book on war that uses humour is compared to it. But Catch 22 is a classic for a reason, it’s an amazingly written book that twists and turns and makes a strange kind of sense, it encapsulates the danger, the struggle and the terror of being a soldier.

Does Billy Lynn’s story do the same? To a certain extent, yes, it does.

Billy Lynn and his squad are heroes. On a break from fighting after a much publicised mission, the military trots the soldiers across the country to drum up support. The book tells the story of their final stop, at a Dallas Cowboy’s game. Dealing with the stress of their last mission, recorded for all to see by a journalist, the loss of their comrades, meeting with the dignitaries and millionaires of the Cowboy’s management and fanship, trying to broker a deal with a Hollywood producer who wants to tell their story, coming to terms with heading back into a warzone, and falling in love, this isn’t just a story about war. It feels a little like a coming of age story for young (19 year old) Billy Lynn, and his story is quite incredible, as he joined the army after beating up his sister’s boyfriend who dumped her after a car crash.

Poignant, intelligent, well written, with humour, insight, and subtlety, this is a story of manhood, war, love, family and honour. A remarkable story, and yes, very probably the Catch 22 of the Iraq war. Touching and brilliant.

THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON By Stephen King – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2009 by stanleyriiks


King seems to write two different types of books, one is the great sprawling stories, normally set in a small town with a small group of characters and the horrors that are unleashed upon them: The Stand, Needful Things, IT, and the other type of story is a much more personal adventure into the darkness, a personal journey through the horrors: The Body, Rita Hayworth and the The Shawshank Redemption, Misery and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

Trisha Macfarlane is out on a trip with her mother and brother in the forest, and they’re going for a hike to get away from things. But when Trisha heads off into the woods for a pee she gets lost. And then she gets more lost.

This short book is the story of Trisha’s journey through the forest, the suffering, the hardship, the fear…

This is the kind of book that only King can write. He doesn’t just produce amazingly realistic characters that everyone can identify with, he doesn’t just imbue the very page with personality, what he does is capture a person, a real life, living, breathing person, and he translates them into words. What he does is magic.

This simple tale is easily up there with some of King’s best stories, the best of which for me will forever be The Body. Even the film version Stand By Me, is one of my favourite films, forever capturing that age when you’re no longer a boy but not yet a man. Well, he’s repeating a similar feat here. The book is an exercise is characterisation, sure it’s a simple story, but King keeps you reading, keeps you on the edge of your seat as you discover more and more about Trish and her family, as you travel and struggle with her.

For a writer who wants to create great characters this is a book to savour and study, it’s a lesson in how to develop a character, an intelligent, in-depth and deeply entertaining lesson.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is simple but outstanding, a book that draws you further and further in. King manages to capture your heart as you travel through the woods with Trisha and suffer alongside her.