So, these are two of my favorite books. They’ve also been handily grouped together in my editorial calendar for months, but I just never got around to pairing them. Until now.
Here they are in all of their pairing splendor. Two books about war, from two very different viewpoints and styles. Where they intersect and how they build off of the other is the subject of today’s pairing.
First is Catch 22, a hilarious look at war that tends towards the satirical. It’s rightfully a classic. That amusing look at war makes the difficult parts–the killed friends, the bureaucracy killing young men–all that much more poignant and tough to deal with.
With Yossarian, we see war through a flippant young man’s eyes. It’s a view that we should remember during any war, at any time.
The Things They Carried is one of my favorite books, but it’s one that I haven’t had the stomach to read more than twice.
If Heller exposes war through satire, O’Brien exposes it through the intense, personal moments that actually make up the war. The beauty of those moments reflect even more the brutality and outrage of war. It gives me shivers even thinking about it now.
Other books that could round out this pairing: Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, or Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain.
What other books about war deserve to be in this pairing? Have you read either of these books?