Newspaper article

Dan Nygard's War Stories Explore Military Life at Home and Away

Newspaper article

Dan Nygard's War Stories Explore Military Life at Home and Away

Article excerpt

There is a lot of pressure to get it right when you write a war story. You must balance humanity with violence, explain impossible politics, convey the essence of a military culture that is largely hidden from society, and move through constant tragedy without getting bogged down. So Iraq War veteran Dan Nygard hasn't even told all of his military friends that he's written a book. "I worry that people won't understand why I needed to write this. Or, I think some of these guys might take it the wrong way, or think that I didn't get it right," he says.

But he did get it right. While "Rounds" (Knuckledown Press) is a gracefully written work of fiction, it's based on Nygard's time in the service, and filled with the observations of a generation of military facing a war unlike any other.

In a series of interconnected short stories, Ray Beaucock is trying to reintegrate into civilian life after an eventful, often surreal deployment. In flashbacks, Beaucock is caught in a confusing and nonsensical war, and at home he is confounded by a society that is largely uninvolved in a war they are funding.

"In previous wars, society was more involved, whether they were protesting or sacrificing or watching on TV. Now, if you're not in a community with a military base, you can go about your business and forget we are still at war," Nygard says. "I wanted to show what it's like to be part of a world that is so close-knit and connected, and yet so separated from the society they are supposed to represent."

Joined Army in '97

Nygard joined the Army at age 17 in 1997. "It was the Clinton years, we were at peace and I thought it would be a good way to serve and figure some things out before I started college," he says. He completed his commitment in Europe, had a wonderful time, then came back to get an English degree and MFA from U of M Moorhead -- until, post 9/11, he watched his military friends get sent into war.

"I didn't agree with the war in Iraq, I felt the decision to go there was really, really shortsighted, but I was missing the military. …

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