War Lit Authors I’m Happy to Know (via The Daily Beast)

I’m very excited to share that author Jesse Goolsby selected “15 Great Books About Iraq & Afghanistan” in an essay for The Daily Beast. The list include Flashes of War and is published with author names, book titles, and opening lines alongside Goolsby’s commentary right here. After I got over the shock of seeing my book on The Daily Beast (Brad and I were driving back from a weekend event in D.C. and my phone started going nutso thanks to a Twitter feed, but my phone isn’t “smart” so it took me a while to put the pieces together.), I read the article in full and my first impression was how grateful I felt to have met and presented alongside almost every author on Goolsby’s list.

(Screenshot from The Daily Beast)

Hands down, I can say this is a smart, kind, considerate, and hard-thinking group. I’m lucky to be included, and flattered. These authors are not people who shy away from tough questions. They’re also not people who veer toward easy answers. Going down the list, I’ve met 7 of the 14 other authors and read 11 of the 14 other books. That doesn’t mean the war lit world is incestuous. It means that we seek and find the people and viewpoints we need the most–whether we need them for support, to expand our horizons, or to teach us more about what we love. It’s a good family to be a part of and it would not be an exaggeration for me to say that I’m grateful for that every day.

For those who want to know more, here’s the run down of this great crew (at least, the ones I know). In brief: I’ve presented at AWP with Jehanne Dubrow (Stateside) and will present for the Rose O’Neill Literary House poetry series she directs in July 2016. Her contributions to the conversation immediately set the bar high, blending academic inquiry with matters of the heart. I’ve presented at South Dakota State University and AWP with Brian Turner (Phantom Noise). He is generous, hilarious, and intuitive. A great “off the cuff” teacher. Author Siobhan Fallon (You Know When the Men Are Gone) and I presented at AWP as well, and secretly hoped to meet each other for years. This woman is whip-smart, fun, kind, and immediately put me at ease. I loved spending time with her.

David Abrams (Fobbit) and I also met at South Dakota State University, but I “knew” him for years before that through his noteworthy blog, The Quivering Pen. David is humble, a true book-lover, and always outwardly directed toward other people. A model literary citizen. Benjamin Busch (Dust to Dust) and I toured together in Michigan, presented at AWP, crossed paths and Interlochen, and just generally slung emails back and forth for quite some time as our books met the world. He’s often called a “Renaissance man,” for his work in photography, film, screenplays, poetry, and memoir.

National Book Award winner Phil Klay (Redeployment) and I also presented at AWP and while our interactions were brief, I very much enjoyed hearing him talk about the art of the sentence. Kayla Williams (Plenty of Time When We Get Home) and I presented together in Bethesda, MD at The Writer’s Center, and likewise shared supportive emails through cyberspace as we alternately encountered new experiences with our books. I like to tell people that she is the author whose books are saving lives every day.

Goolsby’s list is a fine start and survey of an ever-growing dialogue. I can only hope that one day, we all have something else to write about. Something that still covers the terrain of the human heart, but is wishfully far from the landscape of 21st Century warfare. Until our wars end, though, I look to this crew to help me make sense of the mess day in and day out.

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