Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Reader's Diary #792- Scott Chantler: Two Generals

You'll most likely get sick of my talking about my March break in France, if you aren't already at that point, but doggone it I'm excited and a lot of my reading until will be influenced by that vacation. Two Generals, by Scott Chantler, revolves around the Allied invasion of Normandy.

Normandy is one of our planned stops, and I have mixed feelings about it. I feel like I'm going out of patriotic obligation rather than anything else. But I've never been a war buff and feel slightly disrespectful every time I say that. Is it wrong that I usually find war books and movies boring?

Two Generals isn't boring, but it's nothing new either. Seeing a drawing of a dismembered arm or a body lying dead on a beach isn't shocking. It's not that I'm desensitized by images of war, but it's just what I'd expect to see in a war. Only in real life it would affect me. I've yet to read the book or comic, or watch the movie, that doesn't pale in comparison to what I imagine can't imagine it's really like.

There are some touching moments in Two Generals. Through Scott Chantler's grandfather, Law Chantler, we are given a rich portrait of a Canadian soldier-- his friendships, his worries, his heartbreaks, and so on. The artwork is quite well done, as I expected (I was a fan of his Northwest Passage earlier). The book is even put together well, with an elastic strap attached to use as bookmark. I just wanted to feel something more.

If I'm being completely honest, I worry about that in Normandy. What if I don't feel a connection? How horrible would that be? Perhaps I lack the ability to really grasp the reality of it all. Or am I over thinking this? Counselors?


Nikki in Niagara said...

I really loved this book, John. I didn't find it shocking. I found it respectful and honorable in the memory of the author's grandfather. I'm not a war buff, I don't like the politics of it or the military stragegizing but I love war movie and books becaue I like the personal stories and it just reminds me how there was a time when people would give up there lives for something they believed in. Like freedom. They deserve my respect, at least. I honour my family ancestors who were war veterans, too, even if I didn't know them, by putting their pictures on our walls, too.

This is just me though. You can't force yourself to feel something you don't. Perhaps it has do with how connected you are to the reality of WWII, perhaps your age. You are in your 30s correct? Do you have family connections? Do you know their stories? Have their pictures? Just my ramblings...

John Mutford said...

Nicola: Thanks for your response. My remark about the severed arm picture was that such a picture seems intended to shock. You might be onto something with the age thing and lack of family war history (not exactly-- I did have great great uncles that died in the war, but they were never really talked about). In any case, I don't often seek approval from others, but in this case it was nice to hear the "you can't force yourself" comment.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm not a reader of war books either, with a few exceptions, although I do have very close connections to WWII. Perhaps too close.

There's nothing wrong with viewing a place like Normandy as a region of historical significance and nothing more personal.

Shonna said...

I really liked this book. It took the war and made it personal. My grandfather served in Italy, but never talked about it.
I thought the drawings were good and effective with the story and the use of colour brilliant.
I am the kind of person who cries at TV commercials, so emotional response to stories is just part of reading for me ;-)