Day Hardcover – Sep 1 2007
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|Hardcover, Sep 1 2007||
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From Publishers Weekly
Kennedy's contemplative, stylized sixth novel (after Paradise) follows former Royal Air Force tail gunner Alfred Day as he relives his experiences in a WWII German prison camp. It's 1949, and the diminutive but sparky Alfred, now in his mid-20s, is unraveling without the peculiar sense of purpose and dread the war had instilled in him, and without the crew he'd befriended. He volunteers as an extra on the set of a war documentary, hoping to regain precious lost camaraderie, but instead teeters on the edge of total breakdown. Flashbacks abound, detailing Alfred's turbulent childhood with an abusive, alcoholic father. The film set experience grows darker as Alfred begins reliving his time in the prison camp, and the roots of his growing anger and depression are exposed. Kennedy is known for her language and methodical sentence structure, and this dexterity sparkles in her narration, which includes Alfred's interior thoughts (offset in italics) as well as ingenious forays into the second person (where he's presumably talking to himself). It takes getting used to, but adds texture and intimacy to this timely story about the detrimental effects of war on a good man.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
"An imaginative tour de force that succeeds on every level, from its sparkling language to its narrative ingenuity to its devastating portrayal of wartime Europe." --"San Diego Union-Tribune" "Kennedy faultlessly captures the brusque camaraderie of the bomber crew, men from vastly different backgrounds knitted together by a love so profound it can never be put in words." --"The Washington Post" "[Kennedy] follows the examples of several of her contemporaries, including William Boyd and Sebastian Faulks, in writing about World War II, and in doing so makes that fertile territory very much her own. . . . Brilliant." --"The Boston Globe" "Remarkable. . . . Day" "is a novel of extraordinary complexity." --"The New York Review of Books" --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Yet, once I knew where I was in time and space, the book was impossible to put down. I have nothing in common with the leading man, a WWII veteran and RAF gunner. Yet I felt I got into his head; no, more to the point, he got into mine. The result was a combination of discomfort and exhilaration. The story is not one that's easy to swallow and some of the elements are disturbing and visually (for those like me who visualize the story) gory yet appropriate for the war and the period.
The Economist in its review, noted no one would ever tell the author is a woman. I agree. What makes this spell binding is that the man through whose eyes we see the war and understand its emotional aftermath (and largely futile nature) is both insane and aware of his insanity, he examines the loss of his humanity yet is still very human, in love and angry. The writing touched me like very few books have, and I read voraciously so I can speak with some confidence on this.
Anyone with a faint interest in the WWII period, or the human psyche, would want to read this book.
I was sorely disappointed. I think that such an intimate view of a central protagonist - especially one that becomes "you" hence "us" given the constant slipping into the second person mode of telling - really relies on us being interested in that person, or by finding them singular. As soon as we start to resist the direction given to "you" as a reader, it makes the writer's task doubly difficult. Frankly, Alfie Day as a personality or character didn't carry any interest for me. Instead, I became distracted by the research that Kennedy had clearly carried out into the era, and I found myself ticking off things that she had discovered and placed into the narrative to add authenticity. It is hard to get research into this kind of novel so that it seems organic and part of the work, and not a collection of interesting found materials. If the centre of the novel is Alfie, why this world to set him in? It seems an odd choice for "Day" to be set in WWII - not because the events of that time have lost relevance or importance, but because Alfie might have meant more to us had be been in Iraq, Afghanistan, or even the Falklands.
Kennedy's prose sparkles as usual, but for me it alone can't carry the novel, because the characters and narrative it serves for once don't match it.
"Circling in from the north-west came a single Lanc, big-chinned, blunt as a whale and open armed and singing. When you heard them like that, far off, you could think they were trying to speak, words hidden underneath the roar, and if you could only work the out, you would understand everything, ou would be saved. "
DayDay (Vintage Contemporaries) is a love story. The love of a WWII Lancaster crewman for his captain and crew; his love of a woman; his love of combat.
Day is the story of hate. His hatred for an abusive father. Hatred of those who bring tyranny over the innocent.
Author A.L. Kennedy brings us Alfred Day the character. His tale dances across time, interweaving an authentic captivity with a staged reinactment offering Day a second chance to untangle the cords of his war.
Read this book. Please.
Many of the characters seem believable, but the central character is somewhat hollow. Yes, it is a memory piece, the memories being those of Alfie Day. But they are not completely realized and sometimes the rhythm of the prose gets interrupted for a baffled reader. I've enjoyed everything else by Kennedy, most particularly EVERYTHING YOU NEED. But this time, the usually reliable Costa or Whitbread Award let me down.
A quibble: it is curious why Kennedy chose Jane Russell and Jayne Mansfield as representative female icons of the day. Russell wasn't that well known during the war, and Mansfield didn't appear in movies until almost a decade later.