I have recently discovered that I really enjoy gritty novels that are based around real accounts of human suffering. This book is the basis for one of my favourite films: Full Metal Jacket.
Although this is a fictitious account of the Vietnam War, the characters within are based on those that were met by the author. I thoroughly enjoyed the more in depth look at what happened than we see in the film, and the raw way in which it was written. Carried throughout the pages is the black humour and deep sense of irony that we are treated to in Cubrick’s film adaptation.
Only, it’s ten times worse.
The events the characters are forced to endure, from boot camp on Parris Island, through to the jungles of Vietnam are magnified tenfold. Joker, the main character, begins his journey much as the film shows us and follows him through his journey as a war correspondent, and then as a ‘grunt’ in the jungle – where he joins his friend from basic training. I won’t spoil what happens, because I want you to read the book for yourselves and make that discovery.
The narrative I found easy to read, though there are some phrases that are specific to the time it is set. Rather than make the book hard to read, it added charm to the story and helped build a picture of what happened. Some of the events feel like you are suddenly whisked off on some crazy drug trip, which leave you wondering ‘did that just happen’? A lot of the time, it did… and it wasn’t pretty!
Unfortunately, the book is out of print. However, I managed to find a PDF copy for free online here:
So, how do I rate this book? As it is the first ‘gross’ book I have read, it is setting the bar so here goes.
Gross factor: 7/10
This was a good read, and it has opened up a whole new genre of reading for me! I shall be on the hunt for more of it’s kind soon!