The last few weeks has been heavy for me in the ministry front. Here’s a light reading review for the weekend.
Bryan Doerries. The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan. New York, NY: Pantheon Books, April 5th, 2016. 160 pp.
This graphic novel is a retelling of the Greek classic The Odyssey but with a modern twist. The author is a big advocate of using classical literature as a tool help military service members cope and heal with the aftermath of war. Bryan Doerries founded a project called Theater of War that presents readings of Greek plays to service members and veterans. The book itself takes that same concept but uses the medium of graphic novel. It tells the story of an infantry squad of Marines heading home from Afghanistan and their sergeant Jack Brennan telling the story of the Odyssey to help his junior Marines transition back home from war. A few pages into the book I was already thinking, “Man, this might be good for some fellow veterans I know…”
The book has five chapters and an epilogue. Each chapter gives us a certain episode from The Odyssey and also how it spoke to contemporary veterans’ situations. The author definitely have heard enough stories from veterans as some of scenarios are stories I have also heard from my fellow Marines. I was so blown away I actually went online to see if the author was himself a Marine (from what I can tell he was not). I was really impressed with the parallel and the analogies that the book draw concerning Odysseus’ journey back home and today’s warrior coming back from home. It reminded me that as much as technology has changed, the human condition is still essentially the same along with human nature. War is still an ugly business and the men’s journey home is itself not an easy adventure.
If there is one criticism I have of the book is that there is an inconsistency with the drawing of the Marines uniform. Suddenly in chapter four the Marines were wearing Army camouflaged uniform. There was also one panel that has one of the characters saying “…and he was one of the finest Marines I’ve ever met.” But the picture is of a man in an Army Class A uniform. I don’t know what happened. Those uniforms were very different than that of the Army in terms of design, colors, etc. I can only attribute this to the fact that the author had many various artists. Again my fault with the book might have to do also with the fact that much of the books are so accurate in its details of Marines uniform and mannerism that this strange phenomenon in chapter four stood out. Still it doesn’t take away from the story. But it’ll make a Marine pause a bit.
Overall I recommend the book.