Kelly 's Reviews > The Buffalo Soldier

The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian
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's review
Jul 15, 08

bookshelves: family-issues, fiction, love-story

The book deserves four stars, but I can only give it three because the ending makes me so mad. The first chapter is one of the best opening chapters I have ever read. Bohjalian told me that he changed the ending to a happy/upbeat ending because of 9/11 and he just had to have a more happy ending. I certainly understand his reasons, but I still feel that the ending is a man's fantasy ending, and it makes me mad.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by clio (new)

clio teixeira Hi: I just finished reading "Buffalo Soldier". Overall I liked it, bt yes, I thought Chris could have rounded the characters more and made Terry more honest- at least with himself. While I appreciate a love triangle, they are always hard to read, especially in these circumstances. I agree that the ending was somewhat unrealistic especially for a man who lost 2 children to reject a 3rd, bt I also felt so bad for Laura though and I thought that Phoebe got the bad end of the stick...anyway, I wonder if Chris said something about how he originally envisioned the ending: the couple still together or Terry going off with Phoebe or them together bt unhappy...he does allude to some of these issues/ usually with these endings- from intense stories- it is hard to gauge what a "good ending" is.
Tks, I appreciate your reviews...just thought about dropping you a note about the ending since you indicated that the author mentioned something to you.

Kelly Hi Clio,
Chris Bohjalian has come to my school three times to present/work with our students. He is a wonderful writer and an incredible man who is patient, kind, and generous with students. He told me that after 9/11 he couldn't bear to write a very sad ending that wasn't uplifting so he chose this ending for the book even though it wasn't his original idea. I had "taken him to task" about the ending, and that is why he explained the ending to me. I read all of his books, do you? I think he is a great author.

message 3: by clio (new)

clio teixeira Tks KElly...Where is your school? I live in NH. I know he lives in VT and comes to NH to speak and bike. He seems very approachable indeed. I've read "Midwives" and really liked it and now I read "Buffalo Soldiers". I did like both a lot. I do have almost all of his books sort of waiting for the "right time" to read them. I know he is not an "easy", "feel good" kind of writer bt he has beautiful prose and tackle amazingly hard subjects sometimes. I read "Midwives' when I was pregant with my first child who is now almost 8- and I had planned a home/birth center birth with midwives and was very excited bt aprehensive as well. Well, it did quite work that out for me cause my daughter would not come down and I had to have a C-Section after all.
I will drop him a note cause I like "talking" to writers about their work.
I am very interested in looking a common/popular, every-day subjects - yet painful- like the death of a child/adultery etc through other points of view - like through race like in "BS" and "A Ship Made of Paper" by Scott Spencer another great yet painful book.
I do have a penchant for reading about love triangles/adultery especially when they explore the gray are of such affairs- not just so much the stereotypical cases and I think Chris did a good job here with BS...I think that such subject-matters are very hard to tackle by their nature and nobody "wins". I do think that the problem is that he portrayed Laura in such good light and she had gone through so much already that to crown that with Terry leaving her for a pregnant younger woman, that would have been cruel- 9/11 or not.
I think that perhaps he should also focused on Terry and Laura's trying to come to terms with their incredible loss through some sort of help- cause when Alfred came into the picture it exarcebed things even more.
I think the mistake that a lot (good) writers make in portraying this kind of situation=infedelity- is that invariably, the demise of the marriage/love comes through and the new love as to put the new lovers together feels wrong bt to reconcile the marriage feels contrived as well...especially with a guy like Terry who lied to Laura.
I kind of agree with some people who said that it is unrealistic to think that Terry would "abandon" his unborn child and not to tell Laura would have been even worse bc of the future consequences, so unless Chris was planning on a sequel or we bought into his logic, then yes, the ending fells pat which denies the whole book which was again, as in a couple of other books I read recently that tackle infidelity- no ending ends up being "good enough" bt seems more "real" than others. I had wanted Terry to end with Laura bt Chris showed us glimpses that Laura would have been OK without Chris. I had a feeeling that Terry like Phoebe and some losses/ruptures in a marriage are too irrevocable bt then again, I felt that he cared for Laura I don't know how CHris would have gotten out of that one...I do think that Phoebe would have been Ok in the long run bt I do worry how she was going to make ends meet and hold fort. Anyway, perhaps we get too involved in those stories and I should enjoy for what they are- a good story.

I am just curious since you did not seem to have enjoyed the ending: how would you have tackled it? what would have been your "ideal" ending?

Tks for writing back and sorry this is so long. I do get wrapped up in my books...LOL

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