Revisiting One Man’s Initiation: 1917

I’ve revisited my grandfather’s very first novel, One Man’s Initiation: 1917, as I prepare to see the new film 1917, directed by Sam Mendes. Dos Passos was a novice when he wrote it, but not a fool. He excelled at romantic vignettes:

“in the last topaz-clear rays of the sun, the foliage of the Jardin du Luxembourg shone bright green above deep alleys of bluish shadow. From the pavements in front of the mauve-colored houses rose little kiosks with advertisements in bright orange and vermilion and blue. In the middle of the triangle formed by the streets and the garden was a round pool of jade water. Martin leaned back in his chair looking dreamily out through half-closed eyes, breathing deep now and then of the musty scent of Paris, that mingled with the melting freshness of the wild strawberries on the plate before him.”