Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not too Impressed: "Alan's War" by Emmanuel Guibert

Not too Impressed: Alan's War: the memories of G.I. Alan Cope by Emmanuel Guibert, 2008 (English translation), 9781596430969.

I've run across several comments about how great this book is. It was okay but I do not understand the massive praise. As a war memoir it is interesting but not better than the many memoirs I have read. Maybe the people praising this as a war memoir are all graphic novel nerds who have never read any of the thousands of WWII memoirs out there.

If there is anything to praise it is Guibert's selection and organization of Cope's stories. Guibert became a good pal of Cope and recorded down a lot of Cope's stories. Guibert did do a good job of putting together the narrative text. I could take or leave the artwork itself, but I did like when Guibert would draw just the characters and take out all backgrounds; that was a neat but simple technique to isolate the characters.

Alan joins the Army about midway through the war. He is in training for over a year and serves in different locations and in different jobs. By time he gets to Europe the U.S. Army is in Germany and Cope's unit is on a race to Eastern Europe. Pattons is sending them East fast to try because he wants the U.S. to claim the land. Cope sees very slight action.

The war is a really small part of the story. The meat of the tale is Alan's realtionship's. He becomes a great pal with a fellow trainee. During the occupation he makes friends with Germans: a famous pianist/composer and his wife, a brother-sister accordionist duo and their family, a Nazi's daughter, some Bavarian guys he hikes with.

Cope gets discharged and takes a civilian job with the U.S. Army in Germany. He goes home to California to attend seminary and see his fiance-by-mail. Cope tells several tells of seminary friends, his family, a car crash, travel around CA. Cope decides to go back to France. Cope gets married to French gal. Cope gets different jobs until hired as translator by U.S. Army. Cope grows older. Cope gets divorced. Cope gets older. Cope remarries. Cope approaches retirement starts to think about his life. Cope reconnects with war and post-war friends.

This is just a biography with part of it set during the war. A strong argument for using War in the title is how Cope's service changed his life's direction. Cope's life does take some major turns. His time int eh service assisting an Army minister encourages him to seminary. His time and friendships in France and Germany get him to go return.

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