Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Odd Angry Shot

The winner of the National Book Council Award in 1975, The Odd Angry Shot was written by William Nagle, an SAS soldier in the Vietnam War, and the book went on to become an iconic movie.

Of course, I have seen the movie - the iconic scene that I always remember is the fight between the scorpion and the spider. I also remember the boredom that was invoked - how much downtime they had (which isn't restful, but everyone is agitated and uncomfortable), and the constant waiting for the next patrol or useless mission and possibly death.
   The book was more powerful for me. It is such a short story, and is says more by what it doesn't say. The spaces between the words scream (the scream of a frustrated young man).
   The language is also very simple - it is perhaps how a young man thinks, and is written in the words that a young soldier would use.
   The camaraderie amongst the young men is very strong, but only 2 of the 4 come home. The surviving characters do not seem to deal with the death of their mates, nor do they seem to get any proper debriefing or psychological care. They are just let loose - they don't seem to be showing any signs of stress, so they must be fine. Or maybe is was just how they dealt with it back then - meaning they didn't.
   The language and the characters as also very Australian, and there seemed to be no coordination between the American and Australian forces in the novel - maybe that's how it felt or there - that there was no systematic approach; that it was all very haphazard. Like the way the book is written - short pieces of memory and scenes important to the narrator.
   This is something I should have read in high school, but it wasn't on the syllabus.

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