It is interesting to compare this with James A. Michener’s depiction of World War II in his novel Space. Michener uses the war as a foundation to build up Norman Grant as a hero. Captain John Yossarian on the other hand is an anti-hero whose main intent is to survive.
It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead.
When you listen to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series on the ‘Supernova in the East‘, it feels like heroes were often few and far between.
Reading this book I was reminded of a quote from a Peter Goldsworthy novel Maestro, “Cartoon descriptions? How else to describe a cartoon world?.” I think something similar could be said about Keller’s creation. How does one capture such horrific tales of death, other than with humour and absurdity?
Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three. Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitably stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.
“But I make a profit of three and a quarter cents an egg by selling them for four and a quarter cents an egg to the people in Malta I buy them from for seven cents an egg. Of course, I don’t make the profit. The syndicate makes the profit. And everybody has a share.”
Milo Minderbinder, p. 231