Phobos's Reviews > Johnny Got His Gun

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
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Jul 10, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: american, best-seller, character-study, classic, horror, leftist, novel, political, psychology, survival, war, world-war-i

This is an amazing book. It is almost an experiment in writing which ends up being a phenomenal piece of literature. It's almost like a creative writing assignment to write about a character with no nose, no mouth, no arms, no legs, no ears and no eyes.

There is one scene with a rat. I won't give too much away, but I'm not often bothered by graphic scenes in books. This scene had me squirming as it was so well written and so appropriate to the situation the character was in.

The whole book is stream of consciousness, so it's a high concept novel, but it works perfectly. There are only so many things which can be said about an immobile man in a hospital bed but Dalton Trumbo explores almost every aspect the human mind in such a situation could conceive. I particularly enjoy the horror the main character feels from being stuck in his own mind with limited sensory experience.

I would compare the book to Born on the Fourth of July by Ron Kovic. The similarities are quite striking. It's also quite comparable to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest which has an imprisoned mute character. I like high concept books like this which are very minimal in scope but vast in their themes.

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