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Book Challenge Update: 8 Down, 16 to Go

Irreverent, hilarious, entertaining. This book really feels like character sketch after fascinating character sketch—and boy are the details Real!—until you get to know what we would call the “ensemble cast” with hilarious names like Doc Daneeka, General Scheisskopf, Major Major Major Major, and Major —— de Coverley.  It wasn’t until I’d become acquainted to all the characters that I began to develop a feel for the plot. Before that, it was obscured by all of the quirky details about each character and how he (this is a military story set in World War II, so there are few women in the cast that are more than 2D figures) interacted with others and the world.

Throughout the entire book, it seemed to me that none of the characters took the war seriously. Some were busy scheming and getting rich (Milo Minderbinder, “What’s good for M&M Enterprises is good for the country”). Others were trying to understand why they were being tormented by other bombardiers or their officers (poor Chaplain Tappman was constantly being challenged and undermined by his atheist assistant; Captain Flume was certain that Chief White Halfoat would slit his throat in the middle of the night). Some were falling in love with whores in Rome (Natley’s girlfriend plays a pivotal role in the ending). The book is filled with adventure after dizzying adventure, and many of them epitomize “catch-22.”

I really enjoyed this book, although I think it would be difficult to follow if you read the paper book. I listened to it in audiobook format, and the reader gave each character his own voice. It is an excellent production, and I definitely recommend checking this one out as an audiobook.

Currently Reading

Well, I’ve juggled several books in the last couple months, partially because I started reading Der Vorleser auf deutsch, which is hard for me. So I needed a book that I could read and really relax instead of feeling like I was working. Here’s what I’m reading right now.

I’m going to focus on the first two before I continue with the second two. Oh! I read Winter’s Bone with the book club I’ve joined, so I’ll be writing a blog post about that soon. Preview: I was not impressed, but many of the other ladies in the book club loved it.

Follow my progress in detail here.

2 thoughts on “Book Challenge Update: 8 Down, 16 to Go

  1. Fips

    22 May on 2010 at 3:56

    How are you getting on with Der Vorleser? I used to find I could get away with flicking through German books for my subject at university, since skipping the odd word (err.. paragraph) you don’t understand didn’t make a big difference, but when I finally got around to trying to read novels in German it was shockingly hard going! Obviously there were more flowery/descriptive words that you wouldn’t normally come across in something like a newspaper article, but even then I often found that when I looked the words up in a dictionary, I’d be surprised that I hadn’t even been able to judge it correctly from context.

    Constantly grabbing for the dictionary made it a slow process, but fortunately things have gotten better. I’m currently on with Der schwarze Obelisk — the not-so-great Gatsby of hyperinflation Germany — and find that when I’m within dictionary range there are only a few words each chapter I long to look up. The more depressing notion now is that I occasionally find the English entry only to consider going to look for an English dictionary afterwards!

    • admin

      22 May on 2010 at 10:26

      @Fips: Well, I wasn’t getting along very much at all for about six chapters, then I started over and began reading it while listening to the audiobook. It was like I hadn’t read those six chapters because I understood so much more! The reader’s (ha!) intonation and pauses helped me to identify meaningful word groups and connotations more than my non-native ear could. Reading is going much faster now, and I’m comprehending more. I don’t read with a dictionary at all, actually. The audiobook helps with that especially, I think.