Saturday, August 02, 2008

a partial accounting

the last summer of the world
-emily mitchell

i read this because it involves wwi, a subject i'm curious about lately. this is the other book with the photographs, which appear as captions only before we hear a story that fleshes out what happened before the picture was taken. the protagonist, edward steichen, is a historical figure, and an imperfect one. the author does a decent job of making her characters flawed without making me hate them.

half of a yellow sun
-chimamanda ngozi adichie

set in Nigeria in the 1960s and dealing with the civil war with Biafra, the book seemed daunting because of its size and subject matter. the characters were fascinating and convincing. i expected a lot more blood, and while i'm glad there wasn't too much to read through, the horrors of the war affect everything in the landscape of this novel. it follows the lives of a select group of privileged Biafrans, who are brought lower and lower as the war progresses, but who are never personally dragged as deep into the terrors of warfare as many of their countrymen. their education, money, and social class allow them to escape or ameliorate certain elements of the wartime suffering, but their own suffering remains frightening.

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