Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Reader's Diary 90- Kevin Major (No Man's Land, up to ch. 13)

It's a good thing I'm not planning on publishing a book in Newfoundland anytime soon, because I suspect giving a harsh review of a Kevin Major book would be akin to career suicide. He's pretty respected around these parts.

But not to worry. Have I ever been that harsh? Oh wait. Deafening and The Plains Of Passage. But nevermind. I'm not hating this book. The problem is, I'm not loving it either. So far it seems like it's just another war book. The story seems like little more than the stereotypical WWI Novel. I felt that way after the very first chapter and then the second chapter introduced the Newfoundland character a little more, giving the story a more compelling edge. But either that was short lived or it's not enough to keep it going. Yet I still maintain that it's not boring. I can't quite put my finger on why though. Maybe it's just an easy read so I'm getting through it quickly.

Or maybe it's the characters of Hayward and Clark that are keeping it remotely interesting. They're certainly not as compelling as say Xavier and Elijah from Three Day Road but compared to Major's peripheral characters, Hayward and Clark are at least not as flat. I especially like their relationship. Both are from Newfoundland but have quite different backgrounds (as much as we like to generalize about ourselves, no two Newfoundlanders are alike). Clarke came from a privileged background, was schooled in England and is more outgoing and jovial. Hayward on the other hand, worked at a clothing store back in St. John's and seems more reserved. However, they complement each other very well and this is most apparent in a skinny dipping scene in chapter ten. I know what you're thinking: homoeroticism right? Well, maybe. It's hard not to consider that possibility when two young men have snuck off to get naked and wrestle in the water. But even more than that it shows a camaraderie beyond the two men that goes beyond their similarities in rank. Maybe it's due to the war, maybe it's due to their age and level of responsibility thrust in their laps, but these men just needed a break, to be themselves for once, without the necessary facades (nudity as a symbol for honesty, perhaps?). Whatever the case, the dynamic between these two individuals just might be the saving grace for this book.

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