It’s an age-old problem–or maybe a problem peculiar to the modern era. Humans are drawn to violence like moths to the flame. Warn them against it, describe its horrors, and you’ll only inflame them further. So how do you create art about violence without inciting it? This is something I’ve been discussing a lot of […]Read more "Torture Without Porn: Can You Write About Violence Without Fetishizing It?"
As I posted yesterday, I’ve been caught up in the crazy, crazy, crazy story surrounding Russian writer Arkady Babchenko’s alleged murder and subsequent “resurrection,” , with the dramatic revelation at a press conference that the whole thing had been a sting operation and that Babchenko was still very much alive. Although I had not guessed in […]Read more "“Whatever I say is a half-truth”: Arkady #Babchenko and the Hybrid Truth of War Writing #BabchenkoAlive"
Bring Out the Dog Will Mackin Different wars generate different types of literature. This seems obvious, but it’s interesting to note the differences between wars that are happening simultaneously, and even involve some of the same countries, but nonetheless produce stories of different flavors. Case in point: Western literature on the recent war in Iraq […]Read more "“Bring Out the Dog” by Will Mackin"
Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand In “Unbroken,” Laura Hillenbrand returns to tell another story (after “Seabiscuit”) of someone who has been bloodied by adversity, but not broken by it. Louie Zamperini was one of the world’s hottest track stars, breaking record after record and running in the 1936 Olympics. Then WWII broke out, and he ended up […]Read more "“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand"
Cross of Iron Willi Heinrich I have to admit that I read this book a long time ago, so perhaps it isn’t as good as I remember. But as I remember, it is incredible, a true classic of combat writing, so I thought I’d write a review of it for German Literature Month 2017. […]Read more "“Cross of Iron” by Willi Heinrich for #GermanLiteratureMonth"
Sevastopol Sketches Leo Tolstoy Riding on the success of “Childhood,” his first work, burning with patriotism and thirsting for adventure, the young Leo Tolstoy, ardent army officer, requested a transfer to Sevastopol during the Crimean War. His presence there did not win the war for the Russians. But it did launch Tolstoy’s career, provide him […]Read more "“Sevastopol Sketches” by Leo Tolstoy"
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"
All Soldiers Run Away Andy Owen My review of “All Soldiers Run Away,” which was released today, is below. You can read my very interesting interview with Andy Owen about writing the book and about war, literature, and PTSD here and my review of his novel “East of Coker” here. Some soldiers are heroic. But […]Read more "“All Soldiers Run Away” by Andy Owen"
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"