Thursday, 27 August 2015

July reviews

Robert Mason
Corgi 24/08/1984
Borrowed from S

I'll start by saying that I am proud to have stuck with this book to the end. It did pass my initial 50 page test, which generally means that I ought to persevere. It has taken a full month to get through which should suggest that it isn't one that directly pulls me in to read it. What I mean is, if I love a book and it is really up my street, I make reading my number one recreational activity. Everything takes a back seat to curling up with that brilliant book. With Chickenhawk, I had to force my self to pick it up.

That is not to say that once I was reading I didn't enjoy it. The story follows Bob Mason in Vietnam from his initial training to fly a helicopter, a sweaty, and frustrating couple of opening chapters which surprisingly held my attention despite all of the details about helicopter controls. It speaks for the writing that something so alien can become dramatic and interesting to anyone.

My worry about this review has been that this is my dad's favourite book. Its my boyfriend's ONLY book and it has to be considered a 'boys book'. It's about war, it's non-fiction, its machines and guns and helicopters and death. Sadly there is no female that I would be okay with suggesting this book to. Even if I praised the excellent writing, the easy reading, the amazing and captivating story, I just know that it's unlikely that any of my female friends would take the time to read this book. So I'm in this strange place, I wouldn't recommend it to girls, because I don't think they would enjoy it, BUT I did enjoy it and I surprised myself by enjoying it so maybe I should be recommending to men AND women.

I feel like I am being sexist by suggesting that this isn't a book for girls and it is only the fact that I desperately needed a book one night and got sucked in that I read it. I struggled to pick it up with the lure of other books winking at me and the only reason for that is because the subject matter just isn't what I would usually go for, I just don't find it that fun to read. Its a huge bundle of contradictions. It's a great book, I'm glad I've read it, but I don't immediately need to read it again.

Chickenhawk is an incredible true story that makes the Vietnam war more interesting than ever before. Its strength comes from the authentic memories of the author and the detailed and nuanced writing that makes each combat flight a cumulative build up of one mans experiences. There are some really hair raising moments and they're brilliant to read. It takes a talented author to introduce characters in such a way that immediately invests the reader and through each character we see the brutal and harrowing nature of war.

Of course war and killings and an under equipped army and politics and gorilla warfare is disturbing, you cant walk away from some of the images that Mason relays in his book. But the story is also an incredible experience, the men are so incredibly funny and their relationships have a depth beyond the wise cracking veneer.

I'm sorry it took me so long to read it, revealing my general struggle to read out of my comfort zone. I assume most girls wont want to read this book, but I think that women, and men SHOULD.

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