One of those, "Oh, why not?" reads. ^_^;Wolff, Tobias. The Barracks Thief. 1984. New York: Ecco, 2005.Summary
: Three new recruits are ordered to guard an munitions dump that ends up being threatened by a forest fire, but what should unite them fails as one of the trio, insecure about his masculinity, starts stealing money to visit a prostitute. Ultimately, he is caught and goes crazy when he realizes the friendship he could have had with one of the victims of his theft.Comments
: This is a deceptively simple short novel--so simple, in fact, that it is almost TOO ambiguous at times. Oddly, the shifting, non-chronological narrative perspectives and the usage of multiple voices (third and first person) do not obscure much of anything, and the prose is for the most part written in short, declarative, Hemingway-esque sentences. Given that the author is most famous for his gay coming-of-age memoir, This Boy's Life
, I"m tempted to give the story a gay reading; Lewis is the self-hating and ultimately self-destructive closeted homosexual, and his victim Hubbard is the gentle, effeminate (and most likely gay), self-accepting one. Had he acknowledged his passions, he wouldn't have ended in tragedy. In other words, the closet is downright dangerous and unhealthy for the self and everyone else. In fact, only Philip, the character with whom the story starts (and whose runaway brother might also be gay), ever succeeds in the long run at fitting in and "making good" in the stereotypical way. Still, you don't necessarily have to do the gay lit reading--one could also easily read this novel as a subtle critique of violent, womanizing masculinity and of war. Not that the two interpretations are mutually exclusive, or anything...Wolff succeeds better than many white gay writers at rolling particular subcultural prerogatives into universal human concerns.Notes
: trade paperback, 4th printingRating
- Wolff obviously labors over his prose extensively at the sentence level. Finely-crafted and well worth reading.