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To the End of the War: Unpublished Fiction…

To the End of the War: Unpublished Fiction

by James Jones

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Disjunctive but highly introspective and visceral, this collection of short prose pieces is poetically raw. These are not complete, linear stories, and in this way, it affects a traumatic reaction to the WWII theatre in the Pacific. Jones writes accessible simple sentences that accrue rather than lead to main point; he refuses to offer closure in these pieces. One of the reviewers said this was an attempt at a novel; this could be a kind of Dubliners-style collection, with an emphasis on returning to the home front whose patriotism is out of sorts with the main recurring character (a thinly veiled version of Jones himself). This book will enhance a reading The Thin Red Line-- working as an obtuse epilogue to that work.
  Richard.Greenfield | Jan 10, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Fans of James Jones, a writer well known for his powerful World War II fiction, have long been intrigued by his unfinished last novel, Whistle, wondering how different it might have been if he, and not Willie Morris, had finished it. But if most of those fans are like me (someone who has read Whistle three times), they probably still give little thought to Jones’s unpublished first novel, They Shall Inherit the Laughter. Intriguingly, that first novel has now (more or less) been published, and curious readers can decide for themselves whether the publishers of Jones’s day were correct to judge it “unpublishable.”

I use the term “more or less” published because of the manner in which this new book’s editor, George Hendrick, has prepared it for its long delayed release. They Shall Inherit the Laughter is not being presented as a novel. Rather, it has been re-titled To the End of the War: Unpublished Fiction, and its best bits have been recast as a series of interconnected short stories that are largely, and obviously, based on Jones’s personal experiences. Johnny Carter, the protagonist of this short story collection, is simply James Jones under another name.

Jones was bitter and cynical about his war experience by the time the military returned him to the U.S. to recover from wounds suffered in the Pacific. Jones, well aware that he was just being patched up for reassignment to another combat unit, used his repatriation to the States as an opportunity to go AWOL, hiding for a while in his hometown of Robinson, Illinois. He largely spent his time in Robinson drinking, womanizing, and seeking the company of combat veterans as disillusioned about the war effort as him. All of this, in fictional format, is at the heart of what Johnny Carter experiences in these newly released “short stories.”

To the End of the War, one must remember, is very early James Jones. However, even though it does not live up to the standard of Jones’s later work, it is a clear link to what was to come, both in theme and in style. The book makes clear why Maxwell Perkins, despite refusing to publish They Shall Inherit the Laughter, saw enough in Jones to encourage him, if indirectly, in his second attempt at a novel, one that would become world famous as From Here to Eternity. There are certainly enough flashes of the real thing here, particularly in the dialogue between Johnny Carter and other combat vets, to make To the End of the War a worthwhile reading experience for all fans of World War II fiction.

Rated at: 3.0 ( )
  SamSattler | Dec 14, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you enjoy sorting, looking for the best apple in a basket or discarding overripe cranberries in a colander, this may be a worthy read. I found it frustrating to read and re-read portions of a meandering text, waiting and hoping for continuity. The writing is disjointed, sometimes awkward and tangled. And yet, there are moments of engagement, particularly in scenes with dialogue. Clearly, the writer was not at a mature, dependable level at that point in his career. Much has been written on this subject and readers can find better choices. ( )
  Jeanomario | Dec 4, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I did not enjoy reading this book. The stories and background seems to be just thrown together. I got bored trying to follow the story. It did spark an interest to read the Thin Red Line.
  Davidvoz | Dec 3, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
My first thought on starting this book is that although I've seen the film of Jones second book, From Here to Eternity, I haven't read it and now want to go out and do so, as well as his first book.

This is a series of stories printed posthumously that would no doubt have been edited into a coherent whole had Jones been able to manage it. As such, one senses that it's not as good as it could be.

Where it excels is in speaking of war, of the emotions which surround and invade the ordinary people involved and the clashes between soldiers and civilians as well as others such as veterans and new recruits; soldiers and officers. His words are at time raw, unpolished and angry. Some would still be considered politically incorrect now and it's not surprising they weren't welcomed at the time of writing. But Jones tells it like it is (or like one imagines it to be): raw, messy, a waste, full of death and stupidity, with the greater picture being irrelevant.

Some of the phrases really do conjure up strong emotions still and much of what is said is true for any war. It's a powerful read which more than makes up for the occasional roughness although it could be tidied up a bit more.

[As an aside which has nothing to do with the book itself I'm never going to review a DRM book on Adobe Digital Reader again due to their ridiculous rules for reading on multiple apps, i.e. only on one at a time and you have to transfer book off an on.

I also don't appreciate only having the book on loan, as it expires after 2 months

Also the formatting in the book was occasionally off, and the preface to stories not demarcated in a separate font so not immediately clear where was the end of one story or the beginning of a comment.] ( )
  mumfie | Nov 28, 2011 |
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Never-before-published fiction by one of the finest war authors of the twentieth century In 1943, a young soldier named James Jones returned from the Pacific, lightly wounded and psychologically tormented by the horrors of Guadalcanal. When he was well enough to leave the hospital, he went AWOL rather than return to service, and began work on a novel of the World War II experience. Jones's AWOL period was brief, but he returned to the novel at war's end, bringing him to the attention of Maxwell Perkins, the legendary editor of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe. Jones would then go on to write From Here to Eternity, the National Book Award-winning novel that catapulted him into the ranks of the literary elite. Now, for the first time, Jones's earliest writings are presented here, as a collection of stories about man and war, a testament to the great artist he was about to become. This ebook features an illustrated biography of James Jones including rare photos from the author's estate.… (more)

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