WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Articles from Vol. 29, 2017

A Conversation with Bao Ninh
It was November 13, 2015, a Friday. The Hanoi weather was mild, nothing unusual for that time of the year. Finishing up my lunch of rice and pork at a restaurant not far from where I was living, I took long heavy breaths as I thought about Bao Ninh visiting...
A Lesser Imitation (?): How Redeployment Recalls, Expands, and Departs from the Things They Carried
War is, by far, an incredibly fascinating subject worthy of study. War is compelling, devastating, destructive, restorative, exhausting, enthralling, morally complex, and something that often raises a number of questions. War frequently leaves participants,...
A Promise to Keep
Dedicated to Olga ContrerasIn March 2004, as a reporter for Knight Ridder newspapers, I returned to Afghanistan for the fourth time to cover the war. My Afghan colleague, translator Khalid Saraway, picked me up at Kabul International Airport.A boy stood...
Beautiful War: Studies in a Dreadful Fascination
Philip D. Beidler, Beautiful War: Studies in a Dreadful Fascination, University of Alabama Press, 2016Philip Beidler's Beautiful War helps us make sense of our aesthetic fascination with war, by capturing the human process by which a people's history...
"Boom / [S]he Is Not": Drone Wars and the Vanishing Pilot
"The disintegration of a warrior's personality is at a very advanced stage.... Tied to his machine, imprisoned in the closed circuits of electronics, the war pilot is no more than a motor-handicapped person temporarily suffering from a kind of possession...
Carefully Scripted Vietnam, 1969 a Conversation with Jack Beeler
Artist's StatementI've made films and photographs and written film scripts and short stories, but somehow I'm not inclined to call myself an "artist." I submerged many of my "creative urges" and practices when long ago I became a businessman, husband,...
Cold War
PrologueThat mittens outwork gloves was a lesson learned, growing up in Montana-sure knowledge more aptly confirmed when an Air Force assignment landed me at a radar site in Alaska, three degrees north of the Arctic Circle. There we were issued mittens...
Death of a Species
The earth doesn't need to be saved. 99 percent of all species have come and gone while the planet has remained.-Lilienfeld and RathjeThe long republic shells the long republicof itself. Large-minded calibersopen in front of us. Of their swell and passHemingway...
Death, They Said
So our story begins with a field, an ordinary field(Of browned grass and grazing cows).An ordinary field, a blue sky and a small boy(A boy aged six or seven).Madeleine said to me:"What's the use of it? What'll you do if you find her?"Burning flesh and...
Disquiet on the Western Front
Brett, Laurel. Disquiet on the Western Front. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016, $78.95. 120 pages.In this relatively short work, Laurel Brett argues for an understanding of the modern novel and postmodern novel as products of...
Dry Sockets
The Kuroshima Fisherman didn't say a word-not even to Hana, who was Japanese. He just nodded when she placed three bottles of Kirin lager and a 500-yen coin in front of him on the table. When I began to say "pleased to meet you" in Japanese, Hana kicked...
Duty
1Everyone in the division who was not on duty was there in the white sand on the nearly empty beach drinking from a bottle of gin. We were back from deployment, the first one, on our way to New Orleans. This was before Katrina. Chief Waylon kept saying,...
Feet of the Messenger a Conversation with H.C. Palmer
H.C. Palmer grew up in Chanute, Kansas and finished high school in Atchison. He was an all-state athlete in both football and basketball. He went on to play football at the University of Kansas, where he was a starter during his junior and senior year....
France in June
Motion sickness bothered me since childhood, though Dad never believed me-thought I was faking for attention. Fits of sweat, the swaying, my nervous stomach would bloat and burn like the aftermath of a warm glass of expired milk. I'd start burping, pleading...
Frederick Busch and Annie Proulx Forebears of Contemporary War Fiction
In an Atlantic magazine article titled "Where's the Great Novel about the War on Terror?" Matt Gallagher, the author of the Iraq War memoir Kaboom, explored reasons why, as of the time he wrote in 2011, so little fiction had appeared that addressed America's...
Girl at War a Conversation with Sara Novic
Sara Novic's debut novel Girl at War subtly undoes what most of us, who haven't actually survived a conflict, thought we knew about war. Novic's fictional, but historically accurate work reveals the atrocities ofYugoslavia's civil war from the perspective...
Good Kill and Eye in the Sky
Bomber pilots-a dwindling breed-don't usually see their victims. RAF pilot Doug Harvey captured the resultant emotional detachment when he asked sardonically in 1981, "Did I really drop 68,000 pounds of bombs on Berlin? Show me the damage."1 All Harvey...
Henry's Holocaust
In 1994, in the wake of Schindler's List, Steven Spielberg founded Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, commonly called Shoah Foundation-shoah is Hebrew for holocaust. The organization's initial purpose was to interview those who could provide...
HMS Jersey: Absences and Memory from the Battlefields of Brooklyn by Howard Skrill
HMS JERSEY CHMf Jerfey)^ Howard Skrili, 172 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, NY, 11217, skribi@att.net, 646-245-8345/HowardskrilI.blogspot.comIn 1902, the scuttled wreck of the HMS Jersey was discovered in its watery grave in Wallabout Bay in Brooklyn, New York....
I Am Old, I Am Sick, I Do Not Want to Die in Auchwitz
on a sub zero night January 18fast approaching the gates ofAuschwitz, Rapael, then 19,was forced into line withthousands of Jewish prisonersunder the light of the full moon.The bright moon brought anunearthly clarity to a momentof dread. Shouting Nazisseparated...
Imagining War: Ilyse Kusnetz's Small Hours
My dad filled out my first life insurance form before I entered basic training when I was eighteen-years-old. He made himself the recipient of my death gratuity, $100,000, and selected another $100,000 for insurance instead of the full payout of $400,000....
Insignia
Dad is digging up the garden, and when he believes nobody is watching he throws his army insignia in a small hole, covering them with dirt. Then he uses a stick and pokes three rows of small holes, planting a seed in each of them. In a few months, asters,...
Killing Them with Kindness: Tim O'Brien's Rehabilitation of the Violent Vietnam Soldier
"He watched her-clean and young, her eyelashes curled like the petals on an orchid. She was fragile. To touch her would risk destroying the whole thing. He did not touch her." (O'Brien Going After Cacciato 74)"[. . .] there's a bunch of guys in that...
LEBANON: A Bullet in a Magazine
We construct a narrative from the disjointed events ofour lives. Is the narrative truth or fiction? The fog ofwar can further blur the line. War nourishes the tendency to embellish and exaggerate, to reinvent and reimagine, just as rotten flesh nourishes...
Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage
At six a.m.A bank of dark blueClouds lie bruisedAnd stackedOn the horizonLike headless corpsesCome to restAgainst the skinOf a new day:Has the city of Kobane fallen?The thick wallsOf the lighthouse keepers'Cottage block outThe Internet.The news is likeThe...
Monday Night Football: Everybody Wants to Rule the World (1985)
WILLARD (V. O.)Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I never wanted another.-from Michael Herr's narration...
My World War
Virtually every story in this brief account by my father, Oliver Ferguson, of his time as a soldier in the United States Infantry in the last year of the Second World War is intimately familiar to me from my childhood. My brother and I asked him, over...
Not a Story
For everything that lives is Holy.-William BlakeAcre-fields of sunflowers stand more than six feet tall,the round O's of their faces grimace, they turn their heads,offer their petaled, seeded bodies in hand-held bunches tothose left bearing witness on...
Nursing Home at the Veteran's Hospital
Col. Smith lies still while a nurse polisheshis skin with antiseptic soap. She humsas he enjoys the way she bumps against him.Residents enter the cafeteria after a field trip.They recall the billboards along I-75advertising messages from God.Doctors...
Once in the Land of the Morning Calm
My body came home from KoreaWith everything intact. But demoman Disharoon gathered a flowerthat petaled him with awesome power,and paratrooper Jimmy Kitecame screaming from the Asian nightto hit and bounce, a Texas boywhose parachute did not deploy.In...
Out of Season
Dirty. Dirty earth endless dirt. Five acres of it outside the kitchen door, falling in clumps from the pads of the Basset hound walking heavy with milk across Sasha Greenwood's floor. In summer the earth kept its heat, it was cool inside, what could...
Photograph, Solomon Islands, 1944
The caption reads: These men have earned the bloody reputation of being skillful jungle fighters. They are U.S. Marine Raiders gathered in front of a Jap dugout on Cape Totkina on Bougainville, Solomon Islands, which they helped to take January 1944.To...
Please Explain Me
In the spring of 1951, I lived with my wife and daughter in Augusta, Maine, where I worked for a daily newspaper known as the Sentinel. My category-the Sentinel called them categories-was politics. In March, our governor approved a two percent sales...
Remembering 100 Years of the First World War
Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina: It is after 4:00 pm. The conference rooms are deserted. People are putting away their laptops. A group of three are making plans for the night. A bearded student is checking his phone. The breakout room has a sign announcing,...
Sixth-Grade Homework
The towers saturated with dawn stand1,368 feet high. Divide the heightby a pink eraser and average two airplanesto determine the angle of descent.In the lengthening shadow of declivity,how many lives will collapse?We're arguing hereand it's ticking.Calculate...
Telling the Truth about History Tim O'Brien's in the Lake of the Woods
"And even I can remember"A day when historians left blanks in their writings,"I mean for things they didn't know-Ezra Pound, "Canto XIII"Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods is a "missing person" mystery in which an unnamed narrator attempts to reconstruct...
The 11th Annual David L. Jannetta Distinguished Lecture in War, Literature & the Arts September 12, 2017
Thank you so much for having me here tonight, especially thanks to David Janetta and all the Humanities faculty who made this possible. It's an honor to spend these few days with you.My own students often ask me why it matters, all this reading and writing....
The Last Man Standing (Christmas Truce 1914)
-for Alfred Anderson 1896-2005IThere was no soundbut a throbbingin my headthat didn't explode.We searchedthe gruel-coloredsky for tails of lightthat said each moleculeof our bodiesneeded to find more room.Where was I-can't recall which fingerof the trench...
The Mouse
The executive officer... shall be primarily responsible to the commanding officer for the organization, performance of duty, training, maintenance, and good order and discipline of the entire command...Standard Organization and Regulations of the U.S....
The Prisoner in His Palace: A Conversation with Will Bardenwerper
"Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do?"-Bret Easton Ellis, American PsychoSentiments towards the death of Saddam Hussein are generally one of victory, but for a select few their feelings are a bit elusive, like the fumes from Saddam's...
Vietnam Memoir as Satire
Edward Hagan's To Vietnam in Vain: Memoir of an Irish-American Intelligence Advisor, 1969-1970Edward Hagan is an influential voice in the study of Irish and Irish-American narratives. His 2010 work, Goodbye Yeats and O'Neill: Farce in Contemporary Irish...
Warplay
War is infinite nuance. War is the universal story of human suffering and yearning, transcending cultures and languages, as told by Tolstoy. Told by girls and boys, Jews and goys. War eats with many mouths. War chews sirloin, lamb, rice, grape leaves,...
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