Saturday, September 30, 2006

Apocalyptic Thinking

For starters, this link will take you to an overview of Bob Woodward's new book about how the present administration has been in a state of denial about how the war is going in Iraq. Woodward is going to be on 60 Minutes Sunday night; I wouldn't miss it for anything.

Images of war shatter me and move my thinking toward Apocalypse.

I have been asking my composition students to write about the effects of war. I showed them two films, The Grave of the Fireflies and Regret to Inform. Fireflies is an anime tale about the firebombing of Japan during WWII. Regret to Inform is a heartbreaking documentary account of the toll of the Vietnam War on several women, mostly wives, both American and Vietnamese. The stories of the women are threaded together by one American woman's journey to visit the place where her husband, Jeff, died. One of my students, who is a soldier, was very affected by Regret to Inform, saying it has changed everything about his thinking regarding war. After reading his remarks in an in-class writing, I nearly cried.

Papers to grade this weekend and all week long. Papers, papers, papers.

I've been reading so much non-fiction lately that I'm starting to get hungry for fiction again. I just ordered three novels: The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Echo Maker by Richard Powers, and The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford. I've read McCarthy and Ford before, but not Powers. I especially look forward to The Road. I like McCarthy's dark, Faulknerian view of life and his prose sweeps you away like a rough river. I think all three of these novels may be Apocalyptic in their own way.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I may have to rent that movie, Regret to Inform, for my son. He is 21 and always watching gung-ho war movies. Looking forward to the Woodward interview and book, too. Finished Patricia Cornwall's nonfiction book on Jack the Ripper in two days...her fiction never grabbed me, but this book is good. McCarthy's writing is exquisite, but I am not familiar with the other two you name. Have you tried Louis Bayard? I've only read his newest novel, called The Pale Blue Eye. Found it to be more than a gripping story, in many places, the writing could stand by itself as art. Teagrapple

beths front porch said...

I was in a used bookshop yesterday and saw a hard copy of James Dickey's "Deliverance." It's on my kitchen table now. Will you read the Woodward book? I want to.

I am looking forward to the elections. Hope, hope, hope.

Erin said...

I find it so difficult to read about the situation in Iraq, but the article to which you linked is very interesting. I don't spend as much time as I should on the news because it is so tough to take, although I am trying to be better informed.

I prefer fiction, and I hope you enjoy your new books!

John J said...

Theresa:
War and references to same always bring me back to The Red Badge of Courage. War is always a fascinating experience until the other side starts shooting back or your buddy gets killed. War sucks before during and after one experiences it. In addition to the women affected by war, there are the walking wounded veterans who psychologically have never left the battlefield, the nurses and doctors who put their mangled bodies back together not to mention the collateral damage done to the environment.
Woodward's comments on 60 Minutes re: Henry Kissinger, his continued influence on the White House, and his advice that the only honorable way to terminate the Iraq conflict is total victory, is a miguided holdover from WWII. How many more American lives must we sacrifice before Washington has the guts to admit that what they are doing is not working and will never work. Wars are won by attrition: we have more than the other guy, not by the political will of the populace. But in Iraq, there is no way to win by attrition because we don't know who we are fighting. All we know is that these folks are willing to kill 20 plus people for every one that blows him/herself up. Not good odds for our side.
Like it or hate is, America is a republic and we trust that our leaders will do the right thing. Our forefathers were wise enough to recognize that sometimes mistakes are made by the electorate.I think the populace will send a very clear message this November that things need to change right now!

John

Cynthia said...

I really can't handle any kind of war movie, even wonderful documentaries. I saw only a part of Regret to Inform and was shaken for days. Im feeling the pull towards fiction as well, but nothing on the book shelves seems to appeal now. I think I need to go back to some of the books of Faulkner, Hemingway and Fitzgerald that I've loved so much. I can handle that darkness in print. It seems to waken the finer part of me, not the part that can drown in the horror.

emmapeelDallas said...

I haven't seen Regret to Inform, but I did see a heartbreaking documentary on HBO earlier this summer about a number of soldiers, men and women, killed over there, and NPR profiles soldiers who have fallen, and it always leaves me so sad, to hear about them. I hate the war. I guess I'd hate any war, but especially this one, for Almighty Oil. My great-nephew is a marine who's going back to Falujah in October for his 3rd tour of duty. He dreads it; when he was recruited they promised no more than two. He's my favorite niece's son, exactly one week older than my boys, one of whom wanted to enlist at 17, but I faced down him & his recruiter, one long, long afternoon 4 years ago, and I have no regrets about doing that. For that matter, neither does Chris, anymore, because he's had friends enlist & regret it. Jarhead & Generation Kill are excellent accounts of reasons our young people, men and women, should not enlist in this New Army.

Judi

p.s. - My oldest brother was in the Air Force & my youngest brother was a marine recruiter, but they feel the same way I do.

ChasingMoksha said...

I think this is a good link that best explores Woodard and his newest book, if you are interested.

http://www.pierretristam.com/Bobst/Archives/CN100206.htm

V said...

..... his prose sweeps you away like a rough river......
Neat!

I know you`ve read my take on Vietnam, re. me friend ED.

V

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