Tuesday, March 29, 2016

MASH: A Novel About Three Doctors

I read Richard Hooker's MASH: A Novel About Three Doctors (1968) and kept wondering how it was I'd never read it before. I've seen the movie several times and am a huge fan of the show. I did not know that Richard Hooker is in fact a pen name for two people, both of whom had been doctors during the Korean War.

It's a very funny book, and raunchier than either the movie or show. The core of it is that being right in the fighting (not just war per se, but actually in the fighting) flips open the lip of sanity. People act in odd ways (such as dressing up as Jesus Christ, then selling autographed pictures of it) and of course they drink heavily. When Hawkeye and Duke (a character that does not make it to the TV show) go home, it's almost a process of detox. As they get farther from the front, they realize their behavior has to shift. What's normal at a MASH unit is unacceptable elsewhere. Those who are serving in the army but are on the outskirts simply cannot relate.


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