The New York Review of Books, Issue xxx: Who knows? A long, long time ago. Oh, all right: the Nov. 8, 2012 issue. (Self’s Pile of Stuff is a monster. And has grown leaps and bounds since April when, added to the general disorganization of self’s life was a trip to Venice, a trip to southern California, son’s moving in for the summer, and the incredible HEAT, today)
Self will post excerpts from Robert Gottlieb’s essay on James Jones (What a name! There are so many American “James”!)
Since 90.9 % of dear blog readers will probably have no idea who James Jones is (No, it is not the actor famous for playing Othello: That is James Earl Jones. Furthermore, James Jone is not African American), some context:
James Jones was born in 1949.
He was the author of From Here to Eternity, a book about quote the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor unquote.
Jones sent the manuscript to his publisher (Scribner’s) with a note: “I, personally, believe it will stack up with Stendhal’s Waterloo or Tolstoy’s Austerlitz.”
The book was made into a movie starring Burt Lancaster. In one crucial scene, Lancaster (playing a character named Seargent Milt Warden) tells his men:
“The CQ will unlock the rifle racks and every man get his rifle and hang on to it. But stay inside at your bunks. This ain’t no maneuvers. Yo go runnin around outside you’ll get your ass shot off . . . Stay off the porches. Stay inside. I’m making each squad leader responsible to keep his men inside. If you have to use a rifle butt to do it, that’s okay too. “
“What if the fuckers bomb us?” somebody hollered.
“If you hear a bomb coming, you’re free to take off for the brush . . . But not unless you do. I don’t think they will. If they were going to bomb us, they would of started with it already. They probably concentratin all their bombs on the Air Corps and Pearl Harbor.
“Yeah,” somebody hollered. “But what if they ain’t?”
“Then you’re shit out of luck.”
Robert Gottlieb writes of James Jones:
Always you feel that he knows what he’s talking about, whether it’s the savagery of the stockade, life in a rough whorehouse, the anguish of love, or the most mundane minutiae like a “can of milk with its top sliced open by a cleaver butt.”
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.