The Suicide Run
Although not usually a fan of short stories, I enjoyed these much more than I expected. Drawing on powerful personal experience, the four main stories all deal with aspects of being a marine and being faced with the awful reality of war and the difficulties of coping with institutionalised life. This last is a major theme of the second story, “Marriott, the Marine,” where the narrator struggles to reconcile the fact that a colleague of his can be both intelligent and literary but also a proud member of the Marine Corps. He has been called up most unluckily to face death a second time, after already surviving WW2. The first story, “Blankenship,” is set in a prison for marines and examines the question of who really is in prison and who is free. It poses the question of whether you can truly be free when you are a member of the forces and have to obey instantly anyone outranking you. Another of the stories focuses on the young man after the war when he is back home. This story really brings it home to the reader how close to death the man had been, as he cannot get over the sheer pleasure of being alive. The question of fear is also considered in depth.
These stories are extremely thought-provoking and really make the reader aware of what it was like to be in this situation. It seems so far removed from our comfortable safety of the moment and thus the stories serve as a valuable insight into what seems like a different world. These stories will not be to everyone’s taste but are certainly worth trying out, particularly if you have any interest in war and its effects.