No one would have picked Johnny Rico for a soldier. Read more...
No one would have picked Johnny Rico for a soldier. The son of an aging hippie father, Johnny was overeducated and hostile to all authority. But when 9/11 happened, the twenty-six-year-old probation officer dropped everything to become an "infantry combat killer."
But if he'd thought that serving his country would be the kind of authentic experience a reader of The Catcher in the Rye would love, he quickly realized he had another thing coming. In Afghanistan he found himself living a Lord of the Flies existence among soldiers who feared civilian life more than they feared the Taliban-guys like Private Cox, a musical prodigy busy "planning his future poverty," and Private Mulbeck, who didn't know precisely which country he was in. Life in a combat zone meant carnage and courage-but it also meant tedious hours standing guard, punctuated with thoughtful arguments about whether Bea Arthur was still alive.
Utterly uncensored and full of dark wit, Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green is a poignant, frightening, and heartfelt view of life in this and every man's army.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 74.
- Review Date: 2007-02-26
- Reviewer: Staff
When someone is shooting at you, and you are shooting back at someone," Rico warns the reader up-front, "objective perception goes out the door." With that caveat, Rico—a self-professed "tall, skinny dork" who joined the army as one of several reactionary choices in his life (another was changing his name to Johnny Rico at age 21)—takes a shot at recounting his experiences as a stop-loss veteran of the war in Afghanistan. The result is a biting tale of frustrated ambitions and the curse of self-awareness that appropriately cites The Catcher in the Rye and Catch-22 in the book's epigraph; readers will need to remind themselves that this is memoir and not absurdist satire. Whether detailing the horrors of a roadside bomb, or the masturbation schedules of his comrades-in-arms, he shifts between the indignant adolescence that still rages inside of him and the austere sapience of his fiercely learned adulthood. His precise, evocative prose balances pathos and humor with an almost destructive compulsion for honesty and so much frustrated wit that, even at his most naked and sensitive, he holds nothing sacred. A timeless story of confounded youth and its eternal struggle for meaning, this book may well signal the birth of a titanic new voice. (Apr. 24)