The therapeutic ability of storytelling to help people understand the world around them is as old as society itself. Most recently in the media, actor Adam Driver who plays the latest bad guy Kylo Ren in the Star Wars films, has spoken up about the power of using theatrical dramatic exercises to help returning soldiers process what they’ve seen on the battlefield and transition back to civilian life. Author and playwright Brian Doerries uses classic literature and its relevance to our lives today to help communities and soldiers begin conversations about the visible and invisible wounds of war. His latest book, The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan, seamlessly blends this approach and can be read and used by anyone wanting to learn more about the transition soldiers make every day from military exercises back to daily life.
In this graphic novel, Sergeant Jack Brennan has carried around a copy of the classic The Odyssey by Homer all through his last deployment. It is the night before his squad of Marines heads home to San Diego and all of them need to begin to decompress as ordered. However, this is tough to say the least. Sergeant Breannan gathers his men one last time to lead them through the story of Odysseus’s ten year journey home after the Trojan War. As the story is told the pictures and words transition almost seamlessly from present day to ancient Greece, drawing together the problems of modern soldiers and the epic problems Odysseus’ men faced.
This slim volume could be read in one night, but digesting the impact to both civilians and soldiers will take a few readings. I would recommend it to anyone connected to a serviceperson who has ever been deployed, for a conversation starter and hopefully a deeper mutual understanding of the price of war.
You can get the book reviewed here and more great titles to watch, read, listen to, or play with at the Port Library at 1718 N. Hersey in Beloit.