Welcome to Literary R&R's stop on Jerome Charyn's Back to Bataan blog tour, hosted by Tribute Books!
Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him "one of the most important writers in American literature."
New York Newsday hailed Charyn as "a contemporary American Balzac," and the Los Angeles Times described him as "absolutely unique among American writers."
Since 1964, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.
Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.
ISBN #: 978-1476119076
Page Count: 98
Copyright: July 1, 2012
Publisher: Tribute Books
(Taken from Amazon)
New York City, 1943.
War is raging in Europe and the Pacific, while Jack Dalton is stuck attending Dutch Masters Day School. What Jack really wants is to enlist in the army, to fight ...
Everything changes when Coco, Jack's "fiancee," throws him over for one of his classmates. Jack sees red and does something drastic. Then he runs away. Hiding out in a nearby park, Jack joins ranks with a group of vagrants and is soon under the sway of a man called the Leader, an ex-convict who is as articulate and charismatic as he is dangerous. The Leader turns Jack's world upside down. To put things right, Jack must prove himself a braver soldier than he ever imagined.
Although I like this cover, I do have a slight issue with it ... assuming that the people on the cover are representatives of Jack and "Coco." The Jack and "Coco" on this cover look to mature to be the Jack and "Coco" portrayed in the story. I like the Jack and "Coco" representatives on the original cover (below).
Jack's father was a soldier who died in Bataan during the war. His mother now has to work in a parachute factory to try and keep food on the table, Jack in school, and clothes on Jack's back. All Jack can think of, though, is becoming a soldier and fighting with MacArthur as his father did.
When Jack tells his plans of quitting school and becoming a soldier to his mother and his fiancee, Mauricette, they both become upset with him and basically tell him how foolish he's being. So, Jack writes a composition to tell about his feelings and reads it aloud in school the next day.
From there ensues changes to Jack's life that he hadn't planned on: His beloved "Coco" breaking up with him, his becoming a firebug and a thief, and his running away from home and joining up with a group of hobos.
Will Jack be able to return the life he left or will his pride keep him from going back and making amends?
To be around 100 pages, this book has a lot going on. The writing and emotions conveyed is impeccable, as is par for the course with a Charyn work. Although the technicalities of the work is excellent, I'm afraid I wasn't as drawn into this story as I usually am with Jerome's work. I am still a huge fan of Jerome Charyn and his books remain automatic must-reads for me, but this is not one that I enjoyed as much as others.
If you're looking for a quick read concerning the war during the early 1940s from a pre-teen's perspective, then this novella is for you.
*An ecopy of this book was provided by Tribute Books for the purposes of this tour and in exchange for an honest review.