Oh I had big plans this month. I had three memoirs on my stack about life in the military. August was going to be the month of the soldier. The plan sounded great, the books looked fabulous, but life got a bit nuts this month. Sleep took priority over reading. Just putting one foot in front of the other took priority over reading.
Last night though I finally finished this slim little volume, confessions of a woman marine. Tracy Crow waited the right amount of time to tell her story of life in the 70's and 80's as a member of the largely male marine corps. She became a member of the public affairs office and spent her 10 year career snapping photos and writing stories of war and the preparations for war during the Reagan era. Some of what she put herself through was truly harrowing. She has a journalists sensibility for telling the stories of how she came to enlist, marine corps training, and how she broke into certain places to get her story (cause she was a woman and wouldn't normally be allowed in). The narrative was lean and spare (just the facts m'am.)
The framing device was the story of how she was fired and almost court-martialed because of an affair she had with a colonel. The affair was short and happened during a separation with her husband and the colonel himself was single, but the Marines considered her indiscretions conduct unbecoming an officer. So on the same day she was promoted, she was also fired and had to pack her bags and move out on a distinguished 10 year career.
I was impressed by the order in which she told her story and the focus she gave the actual affair. After alluding to it, dancing around the edges of it, telling us how she initially met the colonel, about packing her desk and her harrowing interview with the attorney where she refused to confirm or deny the allegations (what, you can do that?), she told the story of the affair in a few short paragraphs at the very end. The sad tale of a very short time with a man she clearly loved and said good-bye to. She never saw him again. He died 11 years later.
I can't get over how skillfully she ended the story and did not need to dwell on the actual affair. It was the story but still it wasn't. What the story was about was that she had a glorious career and it ended because of this affair. She managed a little poker trick to avoid court martial and further avoid the colonel from being court-martialed. Did he know what she did and how she saved them?
I think some readers might be dismayed not to get more of the salacious details of love, but truly she pitched it perfectly with respect to the man he was and what they may have shared for a short time. Her telling of the tale felt unique and spot on. It will give me something to think about when choosing how to unveil a personal story. Available at the library.