Yesterday I mentioned that as I now have a few books out of the way that I had self-imposed deadlines on, I would read a bit more randomly. A book I recently picked up is one from a list I made last year of mostly nonfiction titles about WWI that I have been hoping to draw from over the course of the year. They are all books that were written at the time of the war or shortly thereafter and by men and women who had experienced it first hand.
I've already read Enid Bagnold's A Diary Without Dates, which I'm afraid I never wrote about properly, though I did mention it briefly here. Mary Borden's The Forbidden Zone makes a good companion read, though it differs slightly in style. It is also a slim book and reads quickly due to the length of the writings. I'm not sure what to call them really as they aren't exactly essays, rather they are brief snippets, impressions even, of her experiences as a nurse in Belgium. It's an intriguing read and reminds me of Bagnold's book in the way that the writings are very loose--almost as if they were jotted down right then and there, which in the case of Borden's book, I think many of them were.
As this is one I think would like to write more about, I won't go into more detail about the author, but I wanted to share an excerpt from one of the pieces. This is taken from one called "Bombardment" about a German plane and the havoc it wreaked over and to a city on what had begun as a perfect day.
"Nevertheless the sun rose, touching the airplane with gold, and the aeroplane laughed. It laughed at the convulsed face of the town, at the beach crawling with vermin, at the ant people swarming through the gates of the city along the white roads; it laughed at the warships moving out of the harbour one by one in stately procession, the mouths of their guns gaping helplessly in their armoured sides. With a last flick of its glittering wings, it darted downward defiant, dodging the kisses of shrapnel, luring them, teasing them, playing with them: then, its message delivered, its sport over, it flew up and away in the sunshine and disappeared. A speck in the infinite sky, then nothing--and the town was left in convulsions."
Her writing is very descriptive, but in a veiled sort of way that you almost don't realize it's a bloody war she is writing about. I'm reading one or two pieces a day and am hoping to compare. I believe some of the pieces were written from memory after the fact. More on this one soon, I hope.