Celebration of the Straw Man - Murray Rogers
A sensitive and evocative account of the life of a New Zealand World War Two artillery soldier that gives insight into New Zealand's rural culture from the pre-depression years, the impact of war on a family through generations, and the magic of companionship in the New Zealand backcountry.
The story is loosely based on the author's parents, with his father never seeming to adjust to what he experienced in Italy during the Second World War. Bill's journey is about his growth from childhood and the character he forges until needing to deal with the effects of brutalizing trauma, and finding his path to self-acceptance through his relationship with his long-standing mate, Charlie, his wife Joan and their children.
The under-appreciated cost of war and its psychological impact are dealt with through a series of fictional incidents, largely based on the author's childhood and teenage experiences. The setting is non-specific but is consistent with the Southland and Canterbury regions of New Zealand and Monte Cassino, Italy.
Beautifully written and laced with sardonic Kiwi humour, the author's style is fluent and engaging; an easy read that deals with a difficult and often painful topic in a meaningful way.