Bonk on the Head

A Canadian army boy writes about growing up in a military family and entering military college. If you read this and still want to join the army, you’ve got problems. This is a work of fiction but clearly the author draws upon real-life experience. Is military training and hazing really that grueling, de-humanizing and this demoralizing? Wonderfully descriptive, cringe-worthy writing. Frank and honest and sensitive and personal. Herbert Kempt, the main character and narrator is brilliant.

Minor criticisms: the Colonel (the dad) and the grandpa are too much. The dad is too mean, too frugal, too cold and gramps is too senile, too rude, too puerile. They are more caricatures than characters at times. Also, is Herbal’s love for/relationship with his sister supposed to be obsessive and near-incestuous?

On the whole, I loved this book. Some part of me still wonders if I’d make it through military training. (Mitch Adams)

by John-James Ford, $20.95, 276 pgs, Nightwood Editions, 4437 Rondeview Rd. Madeira Park, BC, V0N 2H0, nightwoodeditions.com

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