Tag Archives: Houghton Mifflin

Review: Visible Empire

Visible Empire

Visible Empire
By Hannah Pittard
Houghton Mifflin, 9780544748064, June 2018, 288pp.

The Short of It:

A plane crash leaves in its wake a host of people struggling to make sense of the tragedy.

The Rest of It:

Visible Empire is a novel based on true events. In 1962 an Air France flight carrying Atlanta’s elite, crashed shortly after takeoff and left an entire community struggling to process the loss of so many well-known people from the art world. The book opens with the crash itself. The reader is briefly introduced to some of the passengers before the plane plunges back to the runway only to become a horribly burned and twisted mass of steel.

And then, the story really starts.

Everyone left behind has a story of course. A man’s mistress was killed on the plane while his wife at home is about to deliver their first child. A young man, denied admission to an integrated school finds himself driving two white men, in the middle of the night when racial tension is so high. Others, just keep repeating the events of the day never really to come to any conclusion or peace as to what has happened to their community.

Visible Empire started off strong but then petered out about half way through. These characters did not interest me enough for me to want to know more about them, or to care what happened to them once the initial shock of the crash wore off. I think for me, the lack of empathy on my end greatly affected my overall impression of the book.

Have you read it? If so, what did you think of it?

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried
By Tim O’Brien
Houghton Mifflin, Hardcover, 9780547391175, March 2010, 233pp.

The Short of It:

When it comes to storytelling, memory alone can be unreliable.

The Rest of It:

From Indiebound:

Depicting the men of Alpha Company Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O Brien, who survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three the stories in The Things They Carried opened our eyes to the nature of war in a way we will never forget.

At times, this collection felt very real to me. O’Brien served in Vietnam so the level of detail included in each story really gives you a sense of what it was like there, but there are also some implausible things that take place that remind you that it is indeed a work of fiction. Nevertheless, as a book club read it was an interesting book to discuss.

Memory. How important it is in telling stories like these? Does it really matter if the stories were based on actual events? In this case, no. If O’Brien’s purpose was to give us an idea of what it was like to be on the lines, then I’d say that the author succeeded. The details are grisly and O’Brien doesn’t hold back when sharing the cruel side of human nature. A couple of the stories feature animal cruelty that nearly all of us had a tough time getting through. Overall, the horrors of war were made very clear.

I do not enjoy war stories (at all) but I did find this book to be very readable and it was an excellent book to discuss with a group.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.