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The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers by Delia Falconer...

Georgia, 1898: On what may be the last day of his life, Captain Frederick Benteen --- the man who saved Custer's Seventh Cavalry from almost certain death at Little Bighorn --- receives a letter from an ambitious boy offering to "restore" his reputation. For over 23 years Benteen has silently watched Custer's legend grow. His General has been dead for more than 20 years, killed in action, considered a hero, while the public has never forgiven Benteen for surviving. Now, at last, he begins to put down some account of those two horrific days pinned down on a ridge. What follows is an exquisite eulogy for his fellow soldiers, both alive and dead. Funny, moving, rich in character and incident, this acclaimed novel avoids the bloody battle scenes and maudlin romance that characterize much Civil War-based fiction in favor of an unsparing and poetic story that explores what it means to be a soldier --- then and now.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.3" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 28, 2006
Publisher   Soft Skull Press
ISBN  1933368179  
ISBN13  9781933368177  

Availability  0 units.

More About Delia Falconer

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Falconer is one of Austraila's leading young writers.

Delia Falconer currently resides in Melbourne. Delia Falconer was born in 1966.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > War

Reviews - What do customers think about The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers?

The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers  Jul 17, 2006
What a glorious concept for a novel. Captain Frederick Benteen, despite his Civil War record and his service after June 25, 1876, is remembered in history as the man who failed to obey General George Armstrong Custer's last order. This distinction has made him a focal point of the continuing debate of what really happened at the Battle of the Little Big Horn and keeps Benteen, a man who made no secret of the fact he detested his commanding officer, a major player in the controversy. Would Custer and his immediate command have survived if Benteen had answered the order to "Be quick. Bring packs."? Did Benteen, by ignoring his commander's plea and essentially taking command of the men under Major Marcus Reno, save the rest of the Seventh Cavalry from meeting the same fate as Custer? Because of his central role in discussions of the battle, any new book concerning Benteen will be of interest to a great many historians and casual readers. Unfortunately, The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers will yield no insight. Granted, it is marketed as a novel, not a biography, but when that marketing plays upon the central character being a person from history, an expectation is generated that this work can only disappoint. Fans of "literary fiction" with its zealous embracing of all bodily fluids will count this book as beautifully written. Many readers will find it offensive and vulgar, bordering on adolescent. But readers hoping to find a glimpse of the fascinating personality Frederick Benteen must have been will be ill-served by this work of fiction.
"It is a myth we prove ourselves in war, he thinks: we test ourselves in silence."  May 10, 2006
More than twenty years after the end of the Civil War, Custer is a hero while Captain Frederick Benteen - the man who infamously saved the remnants of the Seventh Cavalry at Little Bighorn - has never been forgiven for presumably disobeying orders and thereby surviving. Now Benteen receives a letter from an ambitious youth offering to restore his reputation by telling the "true story" of what happened. As Benteen ponders the possibility one morning at home, he's drawn back into the past and an exploration of his life and self ... "He moves indirectly" are the first words of this novel. They physically describe the central character, Benteen, but they're also an apt announcement of Falconer's narrative choice. She follows the pattern of memory, moving in and out of her character's past in short fragments, exploring connections that might not seem initially obvious but which are, in the end, the only stuff of which our mental lives and identities are actually composed. This is one of those rare novels in which the author's poetic choices are entirely appropriate to the type of story she wants to tell. Indeed, this is a work of immense precision. The language is nothing less than exquisite; the novel is a collection of beautiful miniatures that keep you engrossed despite the absence of immediately discernable plot. I suspect, however, that this beautiful novel is destined to be ignored by Civil War scholars or dismissed with slight bemusement. But they'll miss out on something wonderful by holding it to a goal it doesn't set out to achieve: despite its reasonable adherence to historical facts (creative departures from which Falconer happily acknowledges), this isn't an attempt at biography or historical "truth" in any factual sense, whatever that might mean in these postmodern times. Falconer is more interested in exploring larger issues of memory, celebrity and identity, and uses the Civil War as a ready context. The point is entirely transportable to any mythologized conflict, or indeed to any sphere in which public myth eclipses and ultimately effaces the private lives and memories of actual human beings: "This is history too, he thinks, the weight of gathered thoughts, the cumulus of idle moments." My only reservation is on one aspect of style. Many of the short sections surprise, at their end, with an unexpected moment of violence, overt sexuality or scatological humour. The technique is wonderfully effective when used sparingly. However, by my count it's used more than 30 times in 140 pages - that tends to dilute its force.
The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers  Feb 16, 2006
Short, intense, incandescent, brooding, mysterious and brilliant. Falconer had given us a heavy meditation on the true value of life and mtyh, the enduring power of love and the equations that govern destiny. The story of Frederick W. Benteen, survior (peerhaps by proxy) of the Battle of Little Bighorn and his struggle to honour, in his own mind and to that of a public craving myth, the memory of those who died - both of the 7th Cavalry and the Indians whom they pursued and slaughtered is slow, at time lugubrious, but frequently leavened with a rough humour which contrasts with Falconer's flightly, elliptical and highly poetic story-telling - yet still it is perfectly rounded and timeless to read - ending where, and on the note which, it should

But this is more than story telling. Like the "Service of Clouds" this is a book you let wash over you, you let enchant you, you let transport you to the crepuscular dimness of the final corners of a obtuse and oblique man's life. This slim book is and is of a world unto itself.

Falconer is a wonderful, wonderful writer. "The Service of Clouds" is the best book I have read in the last ten years, and "The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers" is a worthy and powerful work which, even in the mighty shadow of her previous book, did not disappoint me. In fact, it filled me up.

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