Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Paco's Story Readalong - Week 1



Welcome to Week 1 of the Paco's Story Read-along, hosted by Serena and Anna at the War Through the Generations Challenge. We will be reading one or two chapters a week, and then responding to discussion questions.


1. Who do you think the narrator is?

In your average book, this isn't too difficult to figure out. But in the case of Paco's Story, it is not automatically clear. Based on what I've read, it seems that the narrator is the spirit of a man killed in battle - the same battle that destroyed everyone in the Alpha Company except for Paco. The narrator is also telling the story to "James". I've no idea who this is (yet).


2. What do the opening paragraphs of Chapter 1 tell you about the narrator?

I had to read the first several paragraphs three or four times. It is filled with slang and a hardened, rapid-fire dialogue. The narrator sounds angry and bitter. This is a guy that has been around the block and seen more than he should. He assumes folks don't care to hear his story, but he's going to tell it anyway. I found that once I got through the first few pages, I was able to better follow the prose.


3. How do you think Paco’s survival impacted the medic’s world view? And how did that change the medic?

This poor medic had seen one too many dead bodies, and soldiers that passed away soon after his arrival on the scene. He must have been questioning what real purpose he served in this war, besides acting as clean-up crew. Seeing Paco, the lone survivor of a brutal massacre and days of exposure, presented the possibility of a miracle. He defied the medic's reality. The fork in the road for the medic: To dare fate and hope for Paco's survival? Or leave before reality kicks him in the ass one more time. The medic couldn't face it, and took himself out of the equation, abandoning what may have been a career for him down the line. It destroyed him.


4. Is Paco’s Story narrated in a way that is “too” honest?

My personal opinion is that there is no such thing as "too honest" in a novel. Honesty is what will touch your heart, give you nightmares at night, and change the way you look at life. The question is interesting though, because obviously someone does think this book may be offering just a little too much information. Agreed, it is harsh and graphic, and rubs your nose in the violence of the war. So far, though, I wouldn't have it any other way.



11 comments:

Nymeth said...

I couldn't agree with you more about honesty, Sandy!

Serena said...

Great answers Sandy! Anna pointed out there is a foreword to the reader in the beginning of our books that explains who "james" is. I was wondering about him too.

I really love that the honesty is important to you as well. I prefer raw honesty to sugar-coating.

Zibilee said...

I hadn't yet heard of this book, but based upon your answers to the questions posed, it does strike me as an interesting read, and also as a somewhat provocative one. I am going to be following this read along avidly to see what else I can discover about the book.

christa @ mental foodie said...

I'm doing the challenge but not the read-along, but will be following the questions with interest! Can't agree more with Q4 (for other books too).

Jeane said...

I tried reading this once because my sister recommended it, but it was just too raw for me, I didn't make it very far...

ds said...

You are so right about honesty in a novel (in anything, really)!
I probably won't read this one, but will absorb it vicariously through you. Must overcome my squeamishness re war novels (esp Vietnam)...

Darlene said...

It will be interesting to follow your journey through this book. I didn't join in but I'm interested in seeing what everyone has to say.

I agree on honesty being important besides which war is brutal and harsh - a novel can't be true to itself or the people reading it if it's sugar coated in my opinion.

diaryofaneccentric said...

Thanks for your thoughtful answers to the questions. People who have a hard time reading about war, Vietnam in particular, might want to avoid this one, but even though it's harsh and gritty and raw, it's such an important book. It really shows you why some of the soldiers came back so screwed up and why some are still struggling to this day.

I agree about the honesty question. It was especially hard to read the descriptions about Paco's condition when they found him, but it really sets the scene for the rest of the book.

Kris said...

I agree with you regarding Q4. I think it's necessary for a book like this.

The copy of the book I have, explains who James is in the forward. I think this helped me out a lot with the first chapter. It was still hard to follow and difficult to read, but not as difficult as it would have been.

That poor medic. I just can't imagine how many other men were ruined by this war, by the things they saw and had to do, and then to come home to a country that didn't support them and the war. It's heart breaking.

I'm participating too, here's my link if you are interested:
http://notenoughbooks.blogspot.com/2010/07/pacos-story-read-long.html

Literary Feline said...

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up Paco's Story to read. I was blown away by it from the very first sentence. I can't wait to read more of it.

Shelley (Book Clutter) said...

I felt very much the same about questions 1 and 2, and I also had to read the first few paragraphs several times. I like your thoughts on the medic. I'm not sure how anyone could keep doing that without giving up at some point and questioning what it's all about.
I'm not loving it so far, but it's more the writing than the "honesty." I think I need to get into the groove of it still.