The Forever War: Art for the Grown and Sexy

One other accolade for Joe Haldeman's The Forever War—it was not a book about a boy trapped in a man's body. I feel like I spend too much of my life consuming art and consuming non-artistic writing obsessed with the inability of men to grow up. (Some of it on this site, I admit.) I'm just really, really tired of it. 


There is a love story at the heart of The Forever War, but it isn't at the center of it. It sort of grows with the book, and in that sense I felt that it matched my sense of real life.  Are a man's romantic relationships an important part of his life? Yes. But that part works along with like fifty other parts. In that sense, I appreciated how the romance was important and moving, but along with a lot of other things. More that the romance wasn't just "Do I commit or not?" which seems a rather eternal artistic question. 

I'm just sort of bored with it. I feel like it only represents a certain sort of man. I know that some great art has come out of that question. Mad Men is stupendous. But I don't know that I can do another season of Roger, Pete and Don attempting to manage the infinite pursuit of ass and all which that might mean. I'm just tired. I can't keep looking at the screen, or tossing my paperbacks across the room, yelling "Be a man!" To be a boy or not, isn't the end of conflict. And it isn't the end of story-telling. 

It is good to see a dude in love with a woman, and pining for her in the way that dudes do. ("Poor Marygay," the stoic Mandella remarks to us.) It is good to see a dude who isn't dark, brooding and pathetic. It is good to read a woman who was not some pixie dream-girl, but was just, like, a woman. And it is good to read a book that was post man-child, that was on some grown man shit. Throw in some lasers and wormholes, and all the better.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In