This year I planned to read the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction, beginning with the first winner in 1948 (when the novel category was renamed fiction). We happened to have a copy of that book in our personal library. I believe I purchased it at a used book store after we saw the theater production of South Pacific several years ago (which I scrapbooked here), but I never took time to read the book.
Tales of the South Pacificwas a series of short stories rather than a novel. The stories are somewhat related as they all occur during World War II in the South Pacific Islands and several of the characters show up in various chapters. However, it was hard to get invested and interested in the characters and to remember much about them when they showed up in a later story. The stories were all told from the perspective of one narrator who is mostly an observer in each story. In fact, the narrator doesn't really do much during the war, he wasn't even actively involved in the one battle that he describes. Overall I enjoyed the book but think I would have preferred one coherent story.
The stories are entertaining, but in all honesty the book portrays that most of the soldiers and sailors and marines spent an awful lot of time goofing off, playing practical jokes, buying things from the natives, stealing military items to trade, carousing with the females on the islands (natives and a few nurses), drinking, and waiting. Several battle and military campaigns are mentioned in various stories, and one chapter near the end of the book chronicles an actual battle. I read a little about the author, James A. Michener and learned that he had actually served in the South Pacific during the war. I wonder if he spent a lot of time goofing off, drinking, and waiting?
After completing this book, I've discovered a problem with my goal to read the Pulitzer Prize winners. My original plan was to read them in order, thus the 1949 winner, Guard of Honor, would be next on my list. However, it's not available at our local public library. There are some copies of it available through Amazon, but I like to save up a list of books and/or movies before we place an order, so it may be a little while before I get to it.
So, I've changed my plan and will simply not read them in order! I checked our personal library and discovered we own two other winners, which I'll read next. Then I'll see what our local public library has in as I'm ready for a new book.
Have you read Tales of the South Pacific? Seen the movie? Or the theater production?