I just finished The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Wuthering Heights, both of which were written by women in their twenties. Who would have thought that authors with such little worldly experience could create characters so complex and diverse. They’ve forced me to rethink some of my conceptions about youth.
Now, I’m reading With the Old Breed, a memoir of battles in the South Pacific during WWII. I want to throw myself out a window, not to die but to distract myself from the torment. No shade. 115 degree heat. Too little water and it tainted with diesel. Enemy artillery and machineguns firing down on flat, featureless coral. Little sleep. Land crabs. Insects. Afraid to rise up to poop. Blue-hot tracers passing within inches of your body. Violent trembling. Facial muscles tense for so long that expressions become frozen. Desperately resisting the urge to scream cry. Instantly becoming a cigarette smoker. Wounded Americans mutilated, their genitals stuffed in their mouths. A wounded Japanese with his cheeks slit open by a Marine who wanted his gold teeth. Observing corpses as they decay. Realizing that your life is casually expendable to commanders who live at a safe distance in comfortable quarters. A projected four-day battle that lasts four months. Thousands killed, maimed, or driven insane on a tiny island that contains an airfield of no strategic importance. The author writes. I can but list.