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Writing from Iraq

The apartment is quiet.
Francisco and Mariel are sleeping.

Though I want to be next to them in bed, listening to the way their breath has become syncopated, I have a list of things I want to write:

  • Jack Delano/Mercado
  • Darwin’s wife
  • Spanish phrases: Tengo ganas; mas alla
  • GNR’s poem

It’s cryptic, I know, the shorthand to-write list that makes no sense to you until it’s hammered out here.

But I can’t get to any of it, not yet.

*

Yesterday, while standing in an interminable line at the post office, I read two articles in an old issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review. Both were about the war and both left me dissatisfied. The more war writing you read, the more you realize how much sameness there is in it. Not in the experience being described–how can there not be a sameness?– but in the way it’s being described. There’s a certain predictability of the narrative style. Embedded reporters appropriate the language of soldiers, attempting, I guess, to be like them without putting their asses on the line in quite the same way. An example: “Mujahideen” in both articles became “muj”–the writers letting the reader know that they were insiders with this little semantic tidibit.

Then, tonight, when I wanted to write about Jack Delano or Darwin’s wife, I happened to come across the blog of a Matador member who’s serving in Iraq. The kid can’t spell, but boy, he can write. He’s writing with the rawness and urgency that few writers are in touch with… maybe because they’re not in raw, urgent situations like he is.

This is writing from Iraq. Take a few minutes to read it.

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2 responses »

  1. I’d love to check out the Iraq writing, but the link doesn’t work… is there a new one? Thanks!

    Reply

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