If you like literary books that explore the issues of race and class then Carrying, by Theodore Weesner, is a perfect fit. Carrying follows the story of Jimmy Murphy as he matures from a naïve high school teen living in South Boston to an experienced soldier trained in both weaponry and life. In the beginning, Jimmy sees the world as black and white (literally). He understands that racial tension exists but sees himself as an outsider who is for the most part unaffected. As his journey progresses, Jimmy has a hostile and almost near-death encounter with a black soldier who is unlawfully “carrying” a weapon. As he advances to the position of sharp shooter and esteemed tank gunner, Jimmy returns repeatedly to that harrowing day. He feels threatened, scared, and uncertain. Will the other soldier “shank” him in the middle of the night? Eventually, Jimmy’s limited world view expands and he returns home to his native land.
What I enjoyed most about Carrying was watching Jimmy mature into a strong, worldly adult. His journey is documented through letters written to his professor and mentor. The mentor gives him writing tips and Jimmy uses these to eloquently describe his feelings for his overseas love interest and the daily trauma of living within the confines of a tank in an oversees war zone. His beginning rudimentary notes transform into eloquent prose at the end of the novel. Anyone who values a solidly written novel will appreciate the polished writing that Jimmy eventually masters.
Theodore Weesner is a literary genius of contemporary America, and has won several awards for his modern classics such as, The Car Thief and his short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Atlantic Monthly and Best American Short Stories. Please click here to order your advance copy of Carrying! Carrying by Theodore Weesner