This week, I drew the two of clubs which takes me to World War One Short Stories and “Bombardment” by Henri Barbusse. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.
This story (about 11 pages) focuses on Barbusse and his squad mates as they make their way through town and into the trenches. The main focus is surviving the ensuing bombardment by German soldiers and trying to identify all the bombs and guns that are firing. It is quite a game between the soldiers who not only try to identify what is exploding but reliving what ammunition they witnessed in previous battles and comparing those to the ones they are witnessing during the current battle.
One of the reasons I love the stories in this book is that people during the early part of the 20th century really have a poetic way of writing:
“And all the time, in a monotony of madness, the avalanche of fire and iron goes on; shrapnel with its whistling explosion and its overcharged heart of furious metal, and the great percussion shells, whose thunder is that of the railway engine which crashes suddenly into a wall, the thunder of loaded rails or steal beams, toppling down a declivity. The air is now glutted and viewless, it is crossed and recrossed by heavy blasts, and the murder of the earth continues all around, deeply and more deeply, to the limit of completion.” (page 20)
It makes me miss the days when “fortnight” was routinely used and invokes my imagination of what life must have really been like back then. “Bombardment”, while well written, does not do a great job of drawing the reader in but does give the reader a glimpse of what Barbusse was seeing briefly during the bombardment.