Into Eternity: The Life of James Jones, American Writer

Frank MacShane, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $18.95 (355p) ISBN 978-0-395-35355-4
Author of biographies of Raymond Chandler and John O'Hara, MacShane now brings us an equally masterly one of the rugged Midwesterner who reached the foothills of Olympus with his first novel, From Here to Eternity (1951), a powerful story about the peacetime American Army, but had trouble retaining his position there. Jones's second novel, Some Came Running, met with a ""flood of abuse,'' his subsequent fiction with mixed reactions. Jones was a bundle of paradoxes: a gentle man with a taste for violence and crude language; a pessimist who searched for life's answers without believing they existed; a writer deeply curious about literature and philosophy whose stock-in-trade was observable fact. MacShane tells Jones's story, from unhappy youth to early death, with a fine blend of smooth narration and critical insight, covering the war experience at Pearl Harbor and in the South Pacific that gave Jones material for his best fiction; the fashioning of his art with the help of his mistress-mentor Lowney Handy; years in Paris; friendships with the likes of Irwin Shaw, William Styron and Norman Mailer. If Jones was not a great writer, he was an interesting one, and his portrayals of the common U.S. soldier of the '50s struck chords that reverberate still. Photos. November 15
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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