Monday, August 25, 2014

From Here to Eternity - James Jones

From Here to Eternity
The thing with doing a challenge like the Modern Library list is this: some books are winners you immediately fall in love with. Some...not so much.

This particular work falls in the latter category for me.

I really cannot express how happy I am to be finished with this one. I did not enjoy it at all. I started it months and months ago, but have struggled to get through. I finally set benchmarks for myself so I could get motivated enough to finish the last third of the book. Yeah, I thought it was that bad.

The book follows the lives of American servicemen in Hawaii just before the US enters WWII. There is a tiny glimpse of the attack on Pearl Harbor at the end, but barely enough to be noticeable. 

Instead, the book focuses on the activities the men use to fill their time as peace-time servicemen. This translates into a lot of sex and a lot of fighting.

Perhaps it I had served in the military myself I would understand better. However, as it is, I have basically nothing to which I can relate in this book. Instead, I found the characters self-indulgent and focused on the entirely wrong things in life. The first part of the book spends an inordinate amount of time with the main character, Prewitt, trying to scrap up enough money to go to the brothel. 

The women in the book are little more than caricatures in the men's fantasies.  We see little of their actual emotions or stories. Instead, they are portrayed as sex objects and the payday goal of the main characters.

I think I would have found this book much more interesting had it focused on the lives post-Pearl Harbor. Servicemen at war are infinitely more interesting than servicemen during peace time. Plus, they have something to do besides get drunk and visit brothels.

I cannot for the life of me understand why this book is on the Best Novels list. Unlike Ulysses, it had no deeper symbolism that I could recognize. Maybe it just wasn't my genre, but even still, I wish there had been more plot to focus on. To me, bar hopping and saving money for the whorehouse counts little for a real plot. 

Feel free to disagree if you have subjected yourself to read this book. I have no intention of budging from my own opinion, though. If you have not read it, spare yourself. Personally, I'm just glad to cross this one off the list. 

Pages: 816
Date Completed: July 25, 2014

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