As a reader, I have a deep curiosity to know what happens to the writer of the memoir at the end of the memoir. If the writer has written down the memoir, it certainly means that they are alive and well. If the writer has grown as a person over the course of the book, I am eager to read about that defining moment which helped them decide that they need to write their experiences down. For me, reading the “Acknowledgements” section of a memoir is always more satisfying than reading the actual book. You know what I mean? Comment with an “Amen!” if you’ve experienced this too!
Let’s get right into my analysis of this book:
The uncorrected proof copy of this book has the following quote written on the cover:
You’ve chosen the United States Marine Corps.
You will be exploded and shot at and made a fool of and hated and feared and loved and fellated and f*cked and lonely and tired and suicidal.
The blurb of the book goes like this:
A gut wrenching, beautiful memoir that explores masculinity and the devastating consequences of war on one impressionable young soldier. Matt Young joined the Marine Corps at age eighteen after a drunken night culminating in wrapping his car around a fire hydrant. The teenage wasteland he fled followed him to the training bases charged with making him a Marine. Matt survived the training and then not one, not two, but three deployments to Iraq, where the testosterone, danger, and stakes for him and his fellow grunts were dialed up a dozen decibels. Young’s story drops us unarmed into Marine Corps culture and lays bare the absurdism of 21st-century war, the manned-up vulnerability of those on the front lines, and the true, if often misguided, motivations that drove a young man to a life at war.
What I liked about this book is Young’s impeccable ability to narrate experiences as explicitly as possible. It takes a certain kind of genius to write about the gore of war, the craziness of going on an alcoholic binge with fellow soldiers and manly bodily functions without making the reader squeamish and nauseated. I specially loved the essay “Love Story”, in which Young explores his relationship with his fiancé, and the “Self-Diagnosis” sketches inserted in between chapters. The essay “Packing Level: Expert” was hilarious and insightful at the same time. The essay “Positive Identification” talks about how dead bodies of soldiers are identified, specially if they have died due to IED blasts, and the author’s thoughts about the “dog tags” that are used in this process. The essay “Enemies” describes the troop’s battle with an unexpected enemy in the Iraqi warzone: flies.
What I didn’t like about this book is the excessive use of Marines jargon. A glossary at the end of the book could have helped. But since I didn’t find a glossary in the proof copy, I’m assuming that there’s no glossary in the final published copy too. It hampered the reading experience a bit. I didn’t even feel like checking out the meaning of the terms on Google, thanks to the fact that I was filling gaps between my study schedule by reading this book. Also, I did find the narrative style a bit distant, and it was difficult for me to empathise with the author easily.
I will give this book another read when I can. Maybe I chose to read it at the wrong time. Maybe I am not emotionally mature enough right now to appreciate the thoughts penned down by the author. If I do end up reading this book a second time, I’ll surely update this review and let you know what I think about it.
All in all, I give this book a 3/5 stars, and recommend it to someone who is in a relatively happy and calm frame of mind, and willingly to read an honest account about the misdemeanours and mistakes of a young Marine. Do note that there are very graphic descriptions about the war, sex and masturbation in this book.
I received an uncorrected proof copy of “Eat The Apple” by Matt Young from Bloomsbury India. Thank you so much!