'It's Me Again' - Book Review

It's Me Again
by Donald Jack
PaperJacks, 424p.

Sequel to That's Me in the Middle.

This book finds Bandy back flying again, for the first two thirds of the book. He's given his own squadron to command, where his incredibly unorthodox methods slowly win over the pilots, and some of his other behaviours (his incessant demand for parachutes) drive his regional commander right around the bend. It doesn't help that Bandy is seeing more of his commander's wife than he should be. To the point that Bandy is sent to test parachutes.

After causing more problems, he's sent home to Canada to get rid of him, and causing even more trouble there gets him sent to Russia. He fights with the White Russians past the end of the First World War.

I think this is possibly the best of the three Bandy books I've read (the others being That's Me in the Middle linked above, and Three Cheers for Me). There are scenes in this book (notably the party/brawl at the squadron) that I still find very funny even having read them eight or nine times. But it's also the end of the line for me and the series. SPOILERS AHEAD: Bandy married Katherine in the previous book, and that book also mentioned his friend Milestone - although Milestone doesn't show up in person until this book. When I first read these books around age 14, Milestone was a huge character: larger than life, hilarious, very important. On this reading, I see he's only around for fifty or sixty pages in a 424 page book. But Milestone's death hit me hard, and that it was followed fairly shortly by Katherine's death made me very angry at the author. It's not that their deaths are unlikely: Milestone was a combat pilot, the unlikely thing was Bandy's survival. And Katherine died of Spanish Influenza, which killed more people than the First World War. No, the problem is that these were the only friends he had: people who liked him despite his flaws and he was a better person for it. And they were both taken away. At all other times, Bandy is surrounded by adversity, by people that don't like him. And I get that the joke is in the wacky ways in which he wins through, but I feel like even Bandy deserves to have one or two friends to share his triumphs with occasionally.

At some point (again when I was very young) I read the next in the series: Bandy does find another woman to spend time with, but she turns out to be somewhat treacherous and it doesn't last. I've never revisited that book (unlike the first three, each of which I've read several times) and don't intend to.

Postscript: As a rather odd and somewhat academic follow-up note, there's a rather slender book in the series called Me Among the Ruins that's actually the last third of this book. Apparently at one point It's Me Again was a shorter book, and Me Among the Ruins was the fourth book in the series. But now It's Me Again is a thicker book, and Me Among the Ruins is no longer an official part of the series.