Driving home tonight I caught the Radio 4 ‘Book at Bedtime‘ programme. This week, they are using Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker (read by Paul Bazely). The narrative device adopted by the author is to weave a picture of his main characters – a British soldier and two Afghani boys – by imagining the stories of the objects that surround them.
I think it works rather well. There are subtle details as the observations cross over and present a previous scene from a fresh angle. Each thing has its own perspective; details it observes clearly and other aspects that it only notes in passing. For example, the soldier’s boot notes the warmth of the metal steps it is walked down on arrival in Afghanistan.
If you do give it a listen, a word of warning: any story that draws on the views of a tourniquet and a breathing tube isn’t going to be an entirely happy one.