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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back (1946) by Henry Green

Book Review
Back (1946)
by Henry Green

  Is this the last Henry Green title in the 1001 Books project?  It is!  Green is well represented in the 1001 Books project with entries ranging from his first novel, Blindness (1926) to this book, published in 1946.  In between there are Living, Loving and Party Going- published in one volume here in the United Sates.  You've also got Caught.   Back and Caught can both be called World War II novels, albeit from the perspective of someone on the home front.  In Back, the protagonist is Charley Summers,  a veteran who has been released from a German prisoner of war camp (not a concentration camp) as part of a prisoner exchange.  He has lost a leg in the war.

 He returns home having heard that his lover, Rose, has died, while he was away at war.  What is not immediately clear is that Rose was seeing two men at once, and she married the other guy, and had a kid with him.  Summers gets a job at a machine tools plant, in a white collar capacity.  The Father of the deceased Rose gives him the name and number of a mysterious stranger, who turns out to be the half sister of Rose- her father's child with another man.

  After that, Summers gets kind of obsessed, and begins an equally creepy with friendship with Rose's husband.   I would say that Back is the most interesting of all the Green titles in the 1001 Books project.   Summers is the most off-kilter Green hero I can think of, and the subject of post-War trauma is as topical as it was in 1946.

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