Finished: Feb. 2, 2008
Reason for Reading: Received a review copy of the US edition. Canadian challenge
First Published: 2006
Genre: historical fiction, fictional memoir
A beefy-faced guy was pushing the gurney when they came to get you; he rolled it up the driveway and must've caught the corner of the Taurus just above the headlight because now there's a pretty good gouge in the paint.
Comments: An elderly man, seventy-something, visits his dying wife in the hospital and on her deathbed she gives him a cryptic message that sends him back to Singapore, where they both were Japanese POWs. Then the action transfers to 1940 when our narrator is a young man and joins the merchant navy. Thus begins an epic story that spans from 1940 until the present, through Canada, Singapore and Indonesia. A fascinating insight into one man's war, a war that shaped the person he would become for the rest of his life.
The book is written in the first person, but as the narrator is writing to his dead wife it occasionally slips into the second person which at first is a bit difficult to read but becomes less noticeable as the reader becomes familiar with the narrative. My main problem with the book is that there are no chapters, instead the book is divided into three parts, with Part 2 being the majority of the book. This made the book feel overly long to me, a problem I think would be easily solved with chapter breaks. The narrator is very well-written, a believable character and a true product of his time. I hesitate to throw names around, yet I felt a distinctive Atwood resonance, but from a male perspective, to the book.
An impressive first novel, I eagerly await to see what Schroeder will offer next.