Random: Ghosts

Night before last, stayed up very late, reading Sebastian Barry’s A Long, Long Way.  You wouldn’t think a Filipina could get into the head of an Irishman, but she has.  And not just any Irishman.  This lad’s been standing up in a trench in Flanders Field (or somewhere thereabouts), up to his shoulders in water, for fifteen straight days.  He hasn’t had anything to eat, and there are no troops coming from behind to relieve him.  “There was a terrible drop in numbers in the battalions, everyone remarked on it.  Half strength as they were seemed almost a good thing by comparison.” (p. 264).

And what is on his mind?  Ghosts.

The man’s unit was to have been relieved by “a battalion of the Gloucesters.”  But

The Gloucesters never did turn up.  Maybe the great Leviathans of that mud world swallowed them up.  There was talk of new creatures fashioning themselves from this chaos, horrible, fanged whale-like monsters that could eat a soldier in two ticks.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.


  1. KB said,

    May 31, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Yes, WW1 was a nightmare. My paternal grandfather, the Georgia doctor, didn’t go to Europe because he broke his back in a horseback riding accident at Camp Meade, MD. At the same camp, at the same time, was Bud’s paternal grandfather, a sharpshooter, but they didn’t meet of course.

    Meanwhile in the Philippines life went on in Marinduque for lola, and my lolo won a scholarship to an American scholarship, thus beginning the tradition of thinking in English for my mother’s family.

    The grandfather from Georgia developed a morphine addiction to cope with the pain of his broken back, an addiction he broke via force of will, long before rehab was a concept.

    And all that from reading your entry, about an Irishman waiting in water, for help to come…..

  2. June 1, 2009 at 12:51 am

    You should read the book! You’ll cry at the end, though.

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