Tag Archives: Soldiers' Pay

WWW Wednesday, 25-January-2023

25 Jan

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


REAL QUICK! If you haven’t heard, I’m running the When Are You Reading? Challenge for the tenth year! Please consider joining in for this landmark year!

Currently reading: I’ve kept moving in Sophie’s Choice by William Styron now that we’re back. I’m noticing significant improvements in my sleep reading on paper before bed instead of a screen so I’m pushing myself to read a few pages each night. I’ll get through this eventually!
I’ve been grabbing all the time I can to listen to Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell. This is a fun book, though I’m not sure I’m enjoying it as much as the first two. I like Rowell’s writing but I think I’m ready for some different characters.
I haven’t made much progress in Why We Swim by Bonnis Tsui this week. I’ve not been spending as much time on my phone. Catching up at work has me exhausted and wanting away from a screen as soon as it hits 5pm.

Recently finished: Nothing finished this week. Maybe next week, but I’m in the middle of all of my books right now. I was able to post a review of Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner. It was my last book of 2022 so I’ve finally wrapped that year up! I gave the book Two out of Five Stars.

Reading next: I think an audiobook will be my next need and I’m sticking with Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Peña for that. I’ll start planning for future ebooks and physical books next week if I make some good progress in my reading. Fingers crossed!

Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner (2/5)

23 Jan

I was in New Orleans for a conference a few years ago and found a bookshop that used to be home to William Faulkner. (I did a post about that trip and the bookstores I visited where you can read more.) It seemed only appropriate to get a Faulkner book there. I picked the one he wrote while living in that house. Five years later, I picked it up as an ebook to help me finish a reading challenge.

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Cover image via Amazon

Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner

Summary from Amazon:

After the end of World War I, a group of soldiers traveling by train across the United States are on their way home. One is horribly scarred, blind, and almost entirely mute. Moved by his condition, a few civilian fellow travelers decided to see him safely home to Georgia, to a family that believes him dead—and a fiancée who grew tired of waiting.

This book rubbed me the wrong way at the beginning, but then grew on me. I didn’t like the introduction to the characters in the first two chapters. It seemed really abrupt and I was confused about what was happening, what the relationships were between people, and why names kept changing. Once we got to town and things were easier to understand, I settled in and could focus on the story. It ended up being a touching story about the affects of war and how we grieve as individuals and as a society in the wake of such an event. I wasn’t a big fan of how women were portrayed in this book, but I may be confusing that with how much I disliked Cecily. It felt like a chore to read this, which is why I’ve given it such a low rating.

Faulkner’s characters had good variety in their involvement with the war and their temperament in the wake of it. Not having lived through a war the same magnitude as WWI, it’s hard for me to say how credible I think they were because of their time period. I did think they were very caricature-like and that was a part of what I disliked. All of the women were weak and weepy or completely heartless. The men were either abrupt or distant. There wasn’t a lot of nuance to most of them and it because a little annoying for me to read their conversations and interactions.

Gilligan was my favorite character in the book because he always seemed to be the comic relief. That seems odd when I reflect on it, but it was my impression. He was kind and caring and was often able to diffuse any tension that arose between the characters, especially as it had to do with Donald. He was the kind of guy you would want on your side. He was also quite pitiful. He had no where to return to up on coming home, nothing that he wanted to do again. I felt bad for him as much as I liked him.

I couldn’t relate to any of these characters which made it hard to like this story. Cecily, the main female, is horribly vane and selfish. I’m not going to be mad at her that she didn’t want to marry someone she thought was dead, but she was so indecisive about it and I think it made life very emotional for a lot of people when it didn’t need to be. None of the other women are particularly likeable. Ms. Powers might be, but she comes across as scheming and heartless in the end and that made it hard for me to relate to her. Without a woman to relate to and without having lived through the war, this book wasn’t one where I ever got emotionally invested.

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William Faulkner. Image via Wikipedia

I finally got invested in this book after Donald returned home and I could see how all of the characters were going to interact. Up until then, I honestly thought I was reading a collection of short stories. After that, I wasn’t a fan of the writing style, but I was able to follow what was happening much better and could start to get into the story and start to enjoy it.

The first chapter was infuriating for me. It took me a few weeks to read it because I kept getting frustrated and putting it down. I understand that the characters are drunk so it’s not supposed to be completely logical, but it was so scattered that I couldn’t follow. Jumping from there to Jones, I was about ready to quit. Jones remained my least favorite character throughout the book and every time he would show up, I’d just get angry. Once we had some other characters (who were more sober) and a plot, I was much better off.

PTSD and mental health for soldiers is a big topic today. It wasn’t when Faulkner was writing. He brings up a lot of issues that returning combatants see still today. Spending time away from family and loved ones is hard. It’s harder when during that time away, you’re enduring something so stressful and unique that those back home can’t understand what it was like. Jones, Gilligan, and Donald have dealt with it differently. Mrs. Powers has had to deal with her husband not returning home. Those that were waiting have to deal with how their loved ones changed. Emmy struggles the most, seeing how Donald is not at all how he was when he left. There is a lot of this book that’s still very relevant today.

Writer’s Takeaway: More than anything, this book taught me some things not to do. I felt like Jones had no reason to be in the book. He should have been cut. I felt like there was a lot of back-and-forth in the book that gave it a murky middle. That should have been cleaned up. The opening scene did not grab my attention. These are a lot of things writers are warned about and Faulkner fell into them. However, he ended up with a powerful message. He did enough things right in this book, but there were many things that could have been improved.

Overall, not one I’ll reread or recommend. Two out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 1900-1919 time period of the 2022 When Are You Reading? Challenge. It was the final book in this challenge!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.