Richard Bausch | Peace (Vintage)

book_bausch.jpgPeace is a book that makes you think and feel. Not a lot happens, yet everything does.







War stories really aren’t my thing. Oh sure, I read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried back in grad school; O’Brien’s pretty much required reading for any aspiring fiction writer. Beyond that, though, I couldn’t name another book about war that I’ve read…nor wanted to.

This one, however, I grabbed solely because it was Richard Bausch (yet another required read in an MFA program); I didn’t realize Peace was about war until I read the back cover. Damn. Yet I promised a review.

Turns out Bausch held my interest from start to finish. Not only did he weave his typical simple yet simmering prose—"This was the fourth straight day of rain—a windless, freezing downpour without any slight variation of itself."—but he put me on Italian ground during World War I. Nothing much happens here: A battalion hikes up and over a hill in the rain and snow, then over and down on the way back. Along the way, there is distrust (they are being led by an old man named Angelo; does he understand more English than he lets on?), disagreement (no love lost between Joyner and Asch, leading to continual reprimands by Corporal Marson), and disease (why has Marson’s blister sent excruciating pain shooting up the entirety of his leg?).

Yet what’s most stunning here is the way Bausch makes you consider that which you had never contemplated. Suddenly, I found myself in the heads of the battalion, on the fringes of the war. The conditions are deplorable; what would it be like to be stuck outside, trying to sleep while soaked to the bone with freezing rain. Suddenly, every little sound becomes a life-or-death threat. These men with whom you find yourself—they become everything you have. Who can you trust? Who can you turn to? And how can you ever go back to "normal" life again?

Peace is a book that makes you think and feel. Not a lot happens, yet everything does. Life as we know it is gone, leaving a survivalist’s drive in its place. Every action could be life or death…and sometimes is. Through his stripped down writing style, Bausch succeeds in bringing the past alive and pulling us into the picture. That is the highest aspiration of a novelist. | Laura Hamlett

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply