An Ice-Cream War (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
While one might say with some accuracy that all serious fiction is about the nature of vision—in all senses of the word—some novels are more clearly so than others. An Ice-Cream War is such a novel, one that attempts to combine the forms of the historical and the satirical novels and, in so doing, achieves a generally well-structured and well-narrated whole. The events of the novel occur mainly in East Africa and Kent during World War I, with excursions to Oxford and Trouville, France, and involve a host of characters, some of whom are distinct individuals and some of whom are caricatured types, familiar to readers of Evelyn Waugh and E. M. Forster. At the center of this carefully crafted book is the theme of how people view themselves and their world and the effects of war, even an “ice-cream war,” on that vision.
Boyd opens the novel with a page-and-a-half dream in which Walter Smith, an American planter, “sees” Kermit Roosevelt kill his father, Teddy Roosevelt—a “vision” made more realistic by the booming salute of the guns from the German cruiser, Konigsberg, anchored in the harbor at Dar es Salaam, where Smith has come to purchase coffee seedlings. The sound of the salute jars Smith from his sleep, drawing him to the window of his hotel room. From that vantage, he observes the cruiser; also visible is the colony’s Schutztruppe, being inspected by their commander, Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck. In sum,...
(The entire section is 2133 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Harper’s. CCLXVI, March, 1983, p. 62.
Library Journal. CVIII, April 15, 1983, p. 837.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. March 27, 1983, p. 12.
The New Republic. CLXXXVIII, April 25, 1983, p. 37.
New Statesman. CIV, September 17, 1982, p. 21.
The New York Review of Books. XXX, June 2, 1983, p. 42.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVIII, February 27, 1983, p. 8.
The New Yorker. LIX, April 25, 1983, p. 154.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXIII, January 28, 1983, p. 71.
Virginia Quarterly Review. LIX, Autumn, 1983, p. 28.
(The entire section is 63 words.)