Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: Fives and Twenty-fives by Michael Pitre

I'd have to decide whether a friend would be amenable to a book that is more like a Quentin Tarantino movie jumping backwards and forwards in time without a clue which is which. Hopping around like a flea on a hot griddle takes the reader out of the story and requires time to re-acclimate to the story. Although the back and forth in movies and some books is done well, Michael Pitre does not handle this story style at all well. Even readers need sign posts to know where to go and how it all fits in and what works in movies does not always work in literature. The Quentin Tarantino story telling tropes do not work, but I only read the book once. Maybe it improves with multiple readings.

Fives and Twenty-Fives does reveal a leftist version of life and war. Pitre obviously didn't realize that his tales of redemption and friendship under fire also highlighted the conservative views of life and war. 

The reader gets a glimpse of the profit first mentality that underscores the native mentality as they put cheating Americans first at the top of their agenda. One character seeks to hide his privileged background and family money in order to fit in among college students lining up to protest inequities and lack of freedoms while doing his best to get to America to realize his dreams without owning up to the fact that he knew about the plans to bomb and massacre the Americans even though he was supposed to be their native interpreter. 

The soldiers come from both sides of society's railroad tracks and deal with being back home in different ways, some good, some not so good. 

The descriptions of home and abroad were not the same as in-country descriptions were richer and more nuanced than the American south. After all, don't readers know what life in New Orleans on both sides of the track are like? Why spend words on what readers expect and know so well? The point of life in the south is that life is no less gritty, poor, and seedy than life in the Middle East, a fact that the careful reader will not be able to miss. 

Overall, I was attracted by life in the midst of war and a close look at the collateral civilian damage and at least there I was not too disappointed. I'm giving Pitre 3/5 for his Tarantino time sense; I expected so much and got so little. What works for Tarantino fails to work for Pitre. 

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