Two fictional takes on the war in Iraq

The-corpse-exhibitionWilliam T. Vollmann at Bookforum:

I BELIEVE THAT BOTH of our Iraq wars have been unjust wars, fought for specious reasons, and therefore productive of great evil. It is an understatement to say thatRedeployment and The Corpse Exhibition fortify my opinion.

What Klay himself thinks about the current Iraq war I don’t know for certain. Since the most haunting aspect of Redeployment, for me at least, is what its “message” might be, I have pored through it for clues. The dedication of Redeployment is “for my mother and father, who had three sons join the military in a time of war.” But if you read this book through, you will be hard put to find a character who feels enthusiastic about the American “accomplishment” in Iraq, no matter how many times he redeploys. To tell the truth, Klay’s soldiers are equal-opportunity haters. They hate Iraqis, and they despise the fat, self-indulgent civilians like me who are against these wars, not to mention all the other fat civilians who act proud of American soldiers and grateful for their service. (Did I leave anyone out?) Hence this soldier’s summation of Iraq Veterans Against the War: “We lived in a place that was totally different from anything those hippies in that audience could possibly understand. All those jerks who think they’re so good. . . . Alex is gonna go and act like a big hero, telling everybody how bad we were. We weren’t bad. I wanted to shoot every Iraqi I saw, every day. And I never did. Fuck him.”

more here.