Wednesday, July 28

Read-a-long: Paco's Story - Week 3 and 4

I combined weeks 3 and the final weeks questions into one post. Overall a good book, I'll post my final thoughts later. Again, this is for the Paco's Story read-a-long as part of the challenge War Through the Generations - Vietnam. Here's a link to the final weeks questions, and other bloggers thoughts, be sure to check them out.
Week 1 - Discussion Questions
Week 2 - Discussion Questions

Chapter 5

1. Is the identity of the narrator becoming more clear?

It has become more clear, as the mystery of who the narrator is has been solved (I was wrong. My theory was it was Paco, a part of himself or subconscious that detached himself from the rest of himself because of the trauma of war, and this part of him wanted to share his story. I always thought that Paco was so psychologically damaged (harsh words, but only thing I can think of) from living through those events, and having his team all die and be left behind, so I always felt part of Paco “died” their with them, and this part is now telling his story, following him along, and being Paco’s voice.)
Even though I was wrong about the narrator, I still enjoyed who the narrator was in the story, I think it worked out well and had a great effect on the reader.

2. What is it about the work at the Texas Lunch that makes it so easy for Paco to assimilate?
I think it’s work that takes little thought or effort to do is one of the reasons, the second is he can feel part of the team. Like in the army, everyone has a certain job (I think the explain the platoons individual jobs at some point, but I’m not sure if its in chapter 5 or if its in the last two chapters) either way, every member of the platoon had job to do, and it was a team effort, so he likely had the “belonging” feeling. He does his job, he helps his team. I think Paco gets the same feeling working at Texas Lunch, his job isn’t a spectacular one, but it’s a task that needs to be done so other members of the “team” can get on with their jobs. I think he gets a since of comfort knowing he’s accomplishing something.
3. What is the purpose of the dream sequences?

I think it shows how haunted by the events in Vietnam Paco truly is. They reply in wrapped sequences or seemingly wrapped unrelated events. Maybe it’s Paco’s subconscious trying to play out alternate scenarios, which all end in similar ways. Maybe it’s a way he tries to save him self and his team because this event didn’t happen, but this one did. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why he has his dreams, or if they have deeper meaning, because we don’t get to go that deep into the emotional and psychological character of Paco. But to sum it up, I think it’s mainly shows how Paco is continuously haunted by the effects of war, and he can’t ever escape it.
4. Why do you think Ernest and Jesse are so forthcoming with their war stories, but Paco is not?
I think part of the reason is they’ve had more time to recover from the traumatic events, so they’ve gotten past some of the darker moments. It could also be they have different ways to deal with the trauma they faced, and their way of dealing with the pain is to share it with as many people as possible, so others understand what happened out their, and what the soldiers are really going through. But for the most part, I think it’s mainly they’ve had more time to deal with everything.

Chapters 6 and 7
1. What is the significance of the rape scene? How does it change your opinion of Paco?
My least favourite part of the book, I’m not sure of the significance of it. I guess you could say it shows the “mob mentality” theory. It also shows yet another harsh reality of the wars, and how they saw the enemy and how they treated them. It shows a part of war everyone knows about but never talks about. The soldiers get away with a lot “out there” when they fight on the lines, and this is one of them. All the soldiers partake in this, because one all the others are doing it, and two because they’ll suffer consequences of it. (All though if you want to psych 101 it all, part of the significance could be that the “consequences” was they all died leaving Paco alive, and this is his punishment, not only is he living with the guilt of being the survivor, but perhaps this is what he gets for partaking in such a disgusting act.) Overall I think it was just another glimpse, of what really happens in war. It isn’t just groups of men shooting at each other, but heinous acts of crime, that during that time, had little to no consequences for those who committed those crimes.
As for Paco. Not impressed. I felt sorry for him up to this point, and part of me kind of thought, well that’s what you get you….. I’ll just say slime ball, and leave it at that. Overall, I had less sympathy towards Paco after that moment.

2. Cathy’s diary plays an integral role in Paco’s final decision. Why do you think it has such a drastic impact?
Even though I wasn’t to pleased with Paco at the moment, all I could think was, Cathy’s a bitch. I know these were her private thoughts, so they were never meant for Paco’s eyes, but seriously she was harsh. What exactly did this woman think? That Paco had these sexy scares and be like one of the guys in those romance novels? Na├»ve is one thing I have to say about Cathy and stupid. What part did this have in Paco’s decision to leave? I think it was the final nail in the coffin. He knew Cathy (at least for a while) was attracted to him, so I think Paco finally felt things were going to be okay, life will move on. Then reading Cathy’s true thoughts of him, he realized not only is he not ready to move on, but others around him aren’t ready for his “baggage.”

3. What are some of the similarities between Vietnam and Boone, Texas? Differences?

The only similarity I saw was what I said in an earlier discussion question, and it’s more about the work Paco is doing, and everyone having their own particular job. I can’t really think of any other similarity other than that.

Differences? Everything.

4. Were you satisfied with the ending? What are your overall impressions of the book?
Although the ending was a little ambiguous, as to what will happen to Paco next, I was happy about the ending. I think it fit right with the entire story, and how so much of Paco was a mystery, and still remains a bit of mystery. I would have liked to know if Paco ever got over the traumatic events, but looking back, I think I like how it ended, with Paco just escaping from life, and trying to find peace. It leaves a lot up in the air, but it made the book all the better, not knowing what will happen to Paco. It’s fitting with the theme of the book, and I think it worked out well.

My overall impressions? I’ll let you know in my review that I’ll post sometime this week.


  1. Wow, it sounds like there was a lot of heavy material in this book! I can't wait to see your final review of it!!

  2. Thanks so much for participating in the readalong of Paco's Story. Sorry your theory didn't work out, though it was a good one and would be interesting to see how it could have been applied in an alternate version of this story.

    There is so much going on in this 200 page book, its amazing how much is crammed in so few pages.

  3. I felt the same way about Paco after the rape scene, but it's complicated because I still felt sorry for him in a way. I lost all respect for him after that.

    Looking forward to your final review!

  4. Zibilee - it does get pretty heavy in the last part, the whole book has heavy themes. Not for the lighthearted. But well worth reading.

    Serena - I enjoyed it a lot. It was a lot of fun. Makes me look forward to other discussion groups. It didn't work out, but I thought the ghosts of the narrator was a good choice. There is a lot crammed into such a short book. Gives the reader a lot to think about.

    Diaryofaneccentric - It was hard to feel sorry for him after, it really was. I still did, but not as much as before.