Tony's Reviews > The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers

The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers by Delia Falconer
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's review
May 10, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: obscure-but-cool, australian

It would be hard to shelve this slim volume, neither history nor novel; a re-imaging of Captain Frederick Benteen who survived that quintessential moment of American history known as Little Bighorn, in the words of an Australian woman who, quite candidly, I would like to have some beers with. It is lush and beautiful, crude and scatalogical. It is about soldiering and the evil that men do. And all the other chambers of the human heart.

This is a writing clinic on how to describe a person. Like Libbie Custer, whom the soldiers hated. Custer had given instructions to the men to kill her if it looked like defeat. Some mornings the men would draw lots to see who would have the privilege if it turned out to be the day.

He believed she had no private thoughts, only, like Custer, a kind of extra instinct for standing where the light would catch her best.

Handsome Jack had a litany of names for his shits and farts. The Irishman Keogh would brush a woman's fingertips and guarantee an evening rain, if she wished, knowing after she decided on the poetry she would open her door. Monroe thought cows would follow you if they wanted to ask you a question. And Benteen's wife, who on that first night taught him a very sweet thing.

Falconer has a ready answer to those who would question such topics told so realistically by a female author. Why is it that men only write? After all, if an opinion is on the menu he has never known a woman to refuse it. But there is more than argument, he thinks, in these frail pages.

There is indeed. I kept wandering back as I was reading, feeling the pull of a phrase or vignette. Since I don't know quite were to shelve it, maybe I should just keep it handy.

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