Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The Barracks Thief by Tobias Wolff
Publisher: Harper Collins
Challenges: Buy 1 Book and Read It, War Through the Generations (Vietnam)
It's the 1960's and the USA is currently fighting a war in Vietnam. Philip and Keith's parents have divorced. This had a big effect on the two boys. Philip ends p not doing well in school and when he is unable to get into the college he wants to attend he decides to enlist in the army. Keith ends up being on the opposite end and does drugs and becomes your stereotypical hippie.
While training to be a paratrooper Philip is sent to watch an ammo depot with two other newer recruits. They don't really get along but after that night they become friends. It's the 4th of July and there is some concern that a local fire will reach them and the compound will blow up. When it doesn't, the three men feel more confident and that they can take on the world. Things seem to go well until there are a series of thefts at the Barracks.
Hubbord is one of those three and he seems the one most out of sort by being in the Army. He did enlist, but feels that he was told lies and it's not really what he expected. He has a hard time with it.
Lewis is the last of the three. He is a very angry man. He seems to be very unsure of himself and very socially awkward.
Now what you really want to know....my thoughts:
The Barracks Thief is a very different sort of book. It doesn't revolve around fighting in Vietnam or how people adjusted once they were back, etc. It's more about these three men and how each of them end up in the Army for different reasons and react to it differently. While I don't think I fully got the meaning behind the entire story, I thought it was interesting and a worthy read (and at only 101 pages it's a quick one!).
I've only read one other book by the author and that was This Boy's Life. (Wow - that was back in 2006 -and my reviews then were not nearly what they are now..hopefully the ones now are better!). The writing style of this book was different from his memoir and most other books that I've read. I sometimes had to read sentences more than once. Normally, this would annoy me and I would talk about bad writing style but with this book, I think it works. I think the author wrote the sentences in such a way that you had to read them again to fully understand what was said or being implied.
I'm also happy to report that I bought this one at my third (yes..I said third) Border's store shopping trip last week. I first noticed the title and picked it up in hopes it was either Vietnam or WWII. Then I recognized the author's name and remembered liking This Boy's Life. I figured for $1, it was worth the purchase.