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GONE TO SOLDIERS: A Fiction Novel about WWII ~ Marge Piercy

Monday, April 25th, 2016

I discovered Marge Piercy the writer in the early 1990s.  GONE TO SOLDIERS was published in 1987 and I had already read GOING DOWN FAST, SMALL CHANGES, WOMAN ON THE EDGE OF TIME,  FLY AWAY HOME, and HE, SHE, IT. The women I was in a support group with in New York City were praising Piercy’s work and we were sharing copies.  I enjoy her writing very much and her outlook.

After posting the review for HE, SHE, IT, an email* came in asking me if I would like to read GONE TO SOLDIERS for review.   I said yes I would like to read it, forgetting that I had read it first 30 years ago.  I just was so happy to read more of Piercy’s words.   The Kindle told me that at my reading speed it would take 32 hours and 30 minutes to get to the end.   I dove right into each chapter and hardly came up for air.  I am not incredibly fond of books about war.  This one is quite exceptional.  It took 7 years to write and perfect before it was published and winning so many awards.  I was so happy to read it once again.

The book has an interesting shape as 10 characters and their stories are highlighted throughout the book. Some have 14 chapters to their stories.  We begin before the start of the war in France and before the USA became involved.  WWII is over and recovery is beginning at the end of the story.  The primary theme is about being Jewish and how the Jewish experience of the war overlaps and touches so many lives.  I was amazed at how badly the USA Jews were treated and particularly by the Marine corp.  Some American Generals had no trouble with killing Jews in Europe and participated in the process. Each character was well defined and the connecting characters gave continuity to the story and kept the thread of the themes moving forward.

Extraordinary writing. So revealing about the hate we are seeing displayed even now in the USA, so much fear, and how working from that fear keeps us holding on and not moving forward.

Whenever the control is too great, there are scapegoats and then they are vilified and verbally derogated.  It was important for me to read this novel once again. I feel it with mature eyes.  There is more and more to the story; I become a witness.

I not only humbly give this book top stars and I feel as though it should be required reading in our schools today.   I highly recommend this story.

“Marge Piercy has written 17 novels including The New York Times Bestseller Gone To Soldiers; the National Bestsellers Braided Lives and The Longings of Women, and the classic Woman on the Edge of Time and He, She and It and most recently Sex Wars; ; 19 volumes of poetry including The Hunger Moon: New & Selected Poems 1980-2010, The Crooked Inheritance and in spring 2015, Made in Detroit; and a critically acclaimed memoir Sleeping with Cats. Born in center city Detroit, educated at the University of Michigan and Northwestern, the recipient of four honorary doctorates, she is active in antiwar, feminist and environmental causes.“ (Header at website)

Marge Piercy’s Website and Bio

*Kindle book was sent by Greta Shull, Marketing Coordinator, Open Road Integrated Media, 180 Maiden Lane, suite 8A  New York, NY 10038

Related:
He, She, It
When Women Were Birds
The Sowing

HE, SHE, IT: A Novel ~Marge Piercy

Monday, August 31st, 2015

HE, SHE, IT is not a new novel and it is one from my own personal library. I read it the first time in 1991 when it was required reading at the college where I worked.   It was fascinating when I first read it and it stuck with me over all the years.   Then I saw it for 5 cents on a sale table and I purchased it to read again and I was not disappointed.  I even put it on our book group’s schedule for November of this year because I wanted to make sure I read it again.

Long story short of it, I liked this book then and I liked this book now. The writing is fabulous and the parallel stories give it a solid strength and dynamic, and I just could not get enough of the similarities to how our world is turning out right now.    Any binge TV watchers or movie series in the room?

The story takes place in the 21st Century after lots of pollution and soil erosion has ruined the environment. Shira is a brilliant tech person working for the Big Multi Corporations, who has just experienced a divorce and having her child taken away. She escapes her trauma and her job by going back to a free town, Tikva, where her Grandmother a brilliant programmer and historian reared her. Tikva is a free settlement and the people grow their own “real” not vat food and are working at restoring bird life and moral values to their primarily Jewish community.

Shira’s Grandmother and her colleague have built a robot/ cyborg to protect their community not only on the NET but also in their personal lives and this is illegal because the cyborg looks and acts human.  Shira falls in love with Yod and he assists her in recovering her son and bringing him to Tikva.

“As always, Piercy writes with high intelligence, love for the world, ethical passion, and innate feminism.”  (Adrienne Rich – book cover).

The parallel story of the Jewish Golem in Prague in the 1600s is quite fascinating and an interesting replay of that tradition in Jewish literature.  How to build salvation, redemption, and protection in a robot or clay to save the city and the religion from persecution?   A question with a lifetime of study and well handled in HE, SHE, IT.

There are so many parallels to our current lives that it is amazing that the story was written so many years ago.   We seem to need to be entertained and to keep our minds distracted.   We need to earn credits (money) to perfect our physical selves and to dazzle with our clothing and exterior bling.  We don’t seem to be able to control or understand our emotions and dozens of folks are on our streets with their own brand of justice and weapons. Women are expendable and lower class than men. Binge watching is our stimulation and we can download so many distractions and find ways to follow any fad or temporary fixes.  Distractions are us.   Not many thinkers or readers and definitely not many questioners and folks analyzing the situation.

I am looking forward to discussing this book with my book group and digging into the moral issues and the meaningful issues presented in this story. I think you will not be disappointed and I highly recommend HE, SHE, IT to my readers.

There is lots of action and romance in this story.  HE, SHE, IT stands the test of time.

About the Author:

“Marge Piercy is the author of numerous novels, among them Woman on the Edge of Time, Vida, Braided Lives, Gone to Soldiers, and Summer People.  She has written 15 volumes of Poetry by the time this book was published.  She has coauthored a play, The Last White Class, with her husband Ira Wood, the Novelist and screen writer, with who she lives on Cape Cod.”

I could actually just fill up this whole review with a list of her writing.  Piercy is prolific and an essential writer to everyone’s list of great reads.  She is an activist.

Marge Piercy Wikipedia 

Related:
The Sowing 
The Shock Doctrine 
The Robot Scientist’s Daughter 
When Women Were Birds