A thinly fictionalized and deeply disturbing portrayal of three brothers suffering and dying on a dairy farm in the 20th century. The author was succeA thinly fictionalized and deeply disturbing portrayal of three brothers suffering and dying on a dairy farm in the 20th century. The author was successful in showing the brothers as both repulsive and sympathetic, but I found the multiple viewpoints and shifts in perspective jarring and detracting from the overall story. The visual depiction of the farm was masterly but the plot dragged (particularly the side plot about the nephew) and the ending was a bit abrupt....more
Very interesting book, for two reasons. First, the book is written in a unique and engaging style, and second, the characters are so very interestingVery interesting book, for two reasons. First, the book is written in a unique and engaging style, and second, the characters are so very interesting from a psychological perspective.
While I'm not a big biography fan (probably because I read so much non-fiction every day for work) I enjoyed this book because it was not a "typical" biography, i.e., a dry narrative with numerous footnotes. My understanding (from the book and talking to the author) is that the author interviewed about 150 people, and the book is 99.9% straight quotes from the various interview (with a few documents such as personal letters). Thus the book reads more as an oral history or a "story" because very little of it is in narrative form. One of the benefits of this approach is that the author doesn't color the biography with his own judgment and the reader is free to drawn his/her conclusions about the various characters. And believe me, I drew many conclusions and then re-drew them as the tale unfolded...
I knew nothing about Jim Thompson before reading the book, and although some of the book was predictable (the title gives away his POW status), I learned many new things about the Viet Nam war, the military, and Jim himself. I won't get into the details, but the family is quite troubled during and after Jim's return to the USA, and things don't end particularly well for anyone. Alyce is no Penelope, but I ended up being more sympathetic to her position than I expected. Definitely worth a read....more