Brave Deeds David Abrams “We double-time across Baghdad on our twelve feet, a mutant dozen-legged beetle dashing from rock to rock, confident in its shell but always careful of the soft belly underneath.” One of the bravest of the brave deeds in “Brave Deeds” may be the daring decision to narrate the book in the […]Read more "“Brave Deeds” by David Abrams"
Recently author Brian Van Reet and I had a long chat about art, war, life–pretty much everything. In Part I of our conversation we discussed, among other things, the process of literary creation, the military-civilian divide, and feasibility of reinstating the draft. The continuation of our conversation is below. EPC: I think it can be hard […]Read more "My Chat with Veteran and Author Brian Van Reet About Literary Creation and Military Service, Part II"
As I work on my research about, and prepare for my class on, contemporary war writing, a number of authors and translators have graciously agreed to talk to me. A couple of weeks ago I posted my chat with British veteran and author Andy Owen; this time it’s American Brian Van Reet, author of Spoils, […]Read more "My Chat with Veteran and Author Brian Van Reet About Literary Creation and Military Service"
The New Literary War Hero of Chechnya, Iraq, and Afghanistan Image from “Ninth Company,” dir. Fyodor Bondarchuk When I began reading and writing about contemporary Russian war prose, especially connected to the Chechen wars, I thought that the Russian/Chechen experience, and the literature coming out of it, was unique. And of course the Chechen wars […]Read more "My Chat with Veteran and Author Andy Owen about War, Literature, and PTSD, Part II"
The New Literary War Hero in the Age of the Global War on Terror (Image from the film “Captive,” dir. Aleksey Uchitel) While this blog was originally focused mainly on my side hustle job of writing and reviewing fantasy, readers may have noticed a certain focus on matters military in recent posts, as in my […]Read more "My Chat with Andy Owen About War, Literature, and PTSD, Part I"
East of Coker Andy Owen In “East of Coker,” the lives of two different generations intertwine: Arthur, a veteran of WWII, befriends a soldier returned from Iraq who is at the same rehab center. Both men are separated from the women they love, and alienated from society around them, Arthur by his age and the […]Read more "“East of Coker” by Andy Owen"
Crossings Jon Kerstetter “Crossings” is subtitled “A Doctor-Soldier’s Story,” but there’s much more to it than that. It chronicles Jon Kerstetter’s service as a flight surgeon in Iraq, but it also tells the story of his whole life, in which his tours in Iraq are just a small part. The son of a single mother […]Read more "“Crossings” by Jon Kerstetter"
Redeployment Phil Klay In “Redeployment,” Phil Klay gives us a collection of short stories, all about the recent war in Iraq, mainly but not entirely featuring Marines who are or have been deployed there. Despite being Marine-centered, this polyphonic collection–and Klay masterfully writes with different voices–shows the diversity of experience that Americans deployed in Iraq […]Read more "“Redeployment” by Phil Klay"
The Sandbox David Zimmerman A surreptitiously weird book, “The Sandbox” follows the story of Toby Durrant, soldier and screw-up, who ends up in something way over his head while deployed in Iraq. The weirdness begins when Durrant’s convoy comes across the body of a little girl lying in the road. When they stop to investigate, […]Read more "“The Sandbox” by David Zimmerman"
Spoils Brian Van Reet Specialist Cassandra Wigheard is a tough girl from Arkansas who joined the army looking for adventure. What she got was deployment to Iraq and lots of close proximity with aspiring rapists, first from her own comrades in arms, then from the mujahideen who capture her and want to use her as […]Read more "“Spoils” by Brian Van Reet"