The Wars, Imagined

I wrote a review of a novel set partly in the Iraq War. I submitted it and revised it, re-submitted it and revised it, thought I was done. The piece is presently stalled — I overwrought it, need to re-begin it afresh if I am to finish it. It’s very hard to write about that book and equally hard to write about it as an “Iraq war novel.” The category comes too easily, for one; a feebly reductive taxonomic gesture, as if to stave off the singularity of each. What’s more, I’m overwhelmed as soon as I begin to think of such a monumental political and moral disaster as that accursed “war.” Was it even a war? I have begun to doubt it. Just think of American leadership. I’ve stewed too long in my outrage to be eloquent or tactful. Writings on the history and non-fiction of the bloody war are legion, proliferating as we speak. Too much for me. Here’s a list of resources for the Iraq war in fiction.

Some recent group reviews of fictional war literature:

Michael Lokesson, a former Navy officer, has written a review of five novels set in Iraq or Afghanistan, online at the Los Angeles Review of Books (“Passive Aggression: Recent War Novels,” Oct 1, 2013).

Ryan Bubalo, who taught in Iraq for a time, has done somewhat similarly with his piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books (“Danger Close: The Iraq War in American Fiction,” Dec 25, 2013).

Sebastian Stockman wrote a strong essay/review of Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk that’s online at HTMLGiant in the “25 Points” series.

List of books in the Iraq/Afghanistan war fiction vein:

Siobhan Fallon, You Know When the Men Are Gone (2011)

Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds (2012)

David Abrams, Fobbit (2012)

Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012)

Peter Dimock, George Anderson: Notes for a Love Song in Imperial Time (2013)

Lea Carpenter, Eleven Days (2013)

Roxana Robinson, Sparta (2013)

Eds. Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher, Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War (2013)

Joseph McElroy, Cannonball (2013)

Hilary Plum, They Dragged Them Through the Streets (2013)

Phil Kay, Redeployment (2014?)


If you’re aware of others, drop me a line.

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