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Oftentimes, discussion of war gets flattened to a discussion of trauma.
– Phil Klay
I’ve certainly thought a lot more about things like tyranny and patriotism and violence. I think I found some kind of clarity – definitely a thicker understanding.
I love opera. I love jazz, especially Mingus. This makes me sound highbrow. I’m not.
Pity addresses the perceived suffering, not the whole individual.
The First Battle of Fallujah was called off in part because of the intensity of non-U.S. media coverage of civilian casualties from outlets like Al Jazeera.
I don’t believe in any Greatest Generation. I believe in great events. They sweep ordinary people up, expose them to extremes of human behavior and unimaginable tests of integrity and courage, and then deposit them back on the home front.
In a strange way, you have to have a certain amount of distance from a thing in order to be able to write about it.
‘Redeployment’ is a military term. It means to transfer a unit from one area to another.
I went straight from the Marine Corps to the MFA. The way that you would express things among Marines is somewhat different than the way you’re supposed to express things in a creative-writing workshop.
I got to travel around Anbar Province, had a great group of Marines who worked for me who traveled around Anbar Province. I got to hang out with a lot of different types of Marines and soldiers and sailors.
I always wrote – not about war, necessarily, but I always wrote stories. I tried to write while I was in Iraq. It’s not really – I didn’t do a very good job, and not about war.
We have a tendency to think of war as this quasi-mystical thing, and that interpretation flattens the experience – by using different perspectives, I wanted to open a place for readers to compare and contrast, to make judgments, to engage.
In war, it feels like everything you’re doing is more important because you’re in the proximity of violence and death, and that proximity changes your relationship to America because it changes the way you see the world.
There’s something odd about working 24/7, being consumed with everything that’s happening in Iraq, and then coming back to the country that ordered you over there only to realize that a lot of Americans are not really paying attention.
There’s a very particular way that the military speaks. There’s a lot of profanity and a lot of acronyms.
War is complicated and intense, and it takes time and thoughts to understand what it was.
Pity sidesteps complexity in favor of narratives that we’re comfortable with, reducing the nuances of a person’s experience to a sound bite.
I have friends with post-traumatic stress – friends with post-traumatic stress who are, you know, highly successful, capable people.