Two Reviews!

September 10, 2008 at 10:15 pm (Uncategorized)

Like the title implies, I have two reviews today, Guernica, by Davine Boling, and Last Night I Dreamed of Peace, by Dang Thuy Tram.

Peace is a relatively small book, about 256 pages. It is the very real (translated) diary of a Vietnamese doctor during the Vietnam War. After reading her experiences.. even though I wasn’t alive during that time, I feel pretty ashamed about the War. Thuy was professionally trained, she was smart, compassionate, and most of all, courageous. To be caring for the wounded and avoiding detection by enemy troops, courage is a necessity. Throughout her diary, she tells of her trials, of some of the patients that she helped to save. She talks of being a member of the Party, which I’m guessing is similar to a society of professionals that try to better the conditions of Vietnam, and work towards a better future for the country. She gives herself advice daily on how to be a better person, a better friend, sister, on how to get into the Party. She has her doubts, and she has her hopes.

I originally was on the fence about whether I was liking it or not, though the entire time I had a lot of respect for her. In the end though, I felt beyond sad when, after being left alone with a few patients, still waiting for help, she was found, and killed. I guess back then, the soldiers either had no choice, or just didn’t care, about respect for a woman, even if she was the enemy, and simply made her a p.o.w. instead.
The one thing that I did not agree with, was part of the introduction, where they tell you of her death. Honestly, I didn’t need to know that until the after word. I spent the entire time counting down to her death. If they saved that information until the end, then I think it would’ve hit me a little more. I could have been more hopeful to her survival, hoping she has a bright career, reunites with M and her family.. Phooey!

12 January 1970

“… I don’t want to think far ahead. I only want to talk about things before our eyes. That is, each minute of our lives must be a proud minute. There are innumerable hardships in front of us.” So very true!”

27 February 1970

‘life is indeed a painting, with thousands of colors and textures. I am like a painter fresh out of school, stepping into a complex reality. Before me lies a long range of high, dark blue mountains with strands of white clouds spreading lightly on their slopes. The mountains are raked and scarred by bombs, the raw red earth like open wounds. Since I stepped onto this steep road full of perils, lined with trees withered by poison, parched beneath a burning sun, I have encountered cool streams with flowers and fragrant blossoms… And the faces I met on the road have been kindly. There are shiny eyes looking at me with affection. There are inquiring eyes, trying to understand me. And there are also crafty eyes here, trying to cheat me with jealous looks and fake smiles.
Oh, Thuy! Choose wisely, be wise and calm. You are not young. I wish you knew how to act. Don’t squander your trust. Don’t be stingy. You must know how to place your personal interests below those of the Party cooperative. …”
I like how she desribes the what she sees, and the things that those with the crafty eyes don’t think she notices. Then she goes on to give herself a bit of advice to overcome those will ill thoughts towards her, and how to better serve the Party.. Ah, poor Thuy, such a life wasted.

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Guernica, as painted by Pablo Picasso.
And here is some information about the tragic bombing of the town..

Obviously, this is a work of historical fiction, but Mr. Boling stuck with the facts as closely as he could. The story jumps around a bit from character to character in the beginning, but it’s not something to be put off by! Before you realize, the connections start to be made between them, and it starts making more sense.

All of the characters have so much life to them! I found myself looking forward to diving more into their lives and routines, their interactions with others, friend, family, or foe. I also found myself worrying about the fate of Guernica, since this during the time of the Spanish Civil War.

As we started seeing into the eyes of Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen (ugh, that bastard!) I felt nothing but dread. You just know something was going to happen to this town filled with these wonderful characters. Unfortunately, as history tells us.. Guernica gets bombed, killing a grievous many citizens, and wounding more. I wanted to cry as some of my favorite characters, like Mariangeles, Miren, Justo, etc. were caught in the middle of it all.

It’s a powerful story that’s going to stay with me for sure. After I finished it, I went and looked up Guernica on Wikipedia, and I’m even more disgusted with the whole situation. I’m proud of Picasso though, for memorializing the tragedy in a huge painting. With that painting, and his fame, he brought the situation to center stage, garnering more attention to the event.

If anyone was just “thinking” about getting this one, don’t. Just go and get it! You won’t regret it. And definately check out Picasso’s painting and read up about it, at least on wiki.

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Currently reading : Something Like Beautiful, and My Father’s Paradise. Two at once.. so bad..

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1 Comment

  1. Michele said,

    I’ve been looking forward to Guernica and your review is great! Guess I’m going to have to trot down to the bookstore and pick this one up!

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