Yesterday I finished Tim O'Brien's "If I Die In a Combat Zone." What an incredible account of Vietnam by an incredible author. He went into the war by draft, not believing in it, yet not wanting to disappoint his country or his family or himself. And all the time he was over there, every day a fight to stay alive, he never stopped questioning and thinking. Here's a powerful passage:
"It is not a war fought for territory, nor for pieces of land that will be won and held. It is not a war fought to win the hearts of Vietnamese nationals, not in the wake of contempt drawn on our faces and theirs, not in the wake of a burning village, a trampled rice paddy, a battered detainee. If land is not won and if hearts are at best indifferent; if the only obvious criterion of military success is body count and if the enemy absorbs losses as he has, still able to lure us amid his crop of mines; if soldiers are being withdrawn, with more to go later and later; if legs make me more of a man, and they surely do, my soul and character and capacity to love notwithstanding; if any of this is truth, a soldier can only do his walking, laughing along the way and taking a funny, crooked step.
After the war, he can begin to be bitter. Those who point and degrade his bitterness, those who declare that it's all a part of war and that this is a job which must be done--to those patriots I will recommend a postwar vacation to this land, where they can swim in the sea, lounge under a fine sun, stroll in the quaint countryside, wife and son in hand. Certainly there will be a mine or two still in the earth. Alpha Company did not detonate all of them."
- My work can be found in REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, Pank, New Delta Review, and Gargoyle #57, among others. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. Currently, I'm an Associate editor for Narrative Magazine. In 2011, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.