book talk

I've just read HOUSE TO HOUSE, a memoir of Fallujah. It's one of the hairiest parts of the Iraq War to date and the book is gripping. I didn't want to put it down, and I was sorry when it ended. It was one of the best examples of verb usage empowering writing that I've ever seen--something I strive for. It's so obviously a male voice, tight and hard and unforgiving, but never unlikeable.

I also learned several things about the war:

The soldiers often live in their own filth and blood while continuing to fight. I knew war was a dirty business, but I just didn't realize what they'll go through to win. It tells me that when I see a soldier, new or old, you never know what they've been through.

The insurgents often drug themselves with pure adrenalin so that they are difficult to kill. It can sometimes take upwards of twenty bullets to stop such a heart from beating. How this fits in with the Islamic "body is a temple" theme--they often won't take alcohol or smoke--I don't know. The suicide bombers are touted in the media like hypnotically indoctrinated fanatics, but it makes me wonder if they do drugs. It's pretty hard to tell once they've blown themselves up.

The insurgents are a sophisticated foe--likely more sophisticated than most Americans realize. I'm surprised this is an angle the Administration has not played up. These are not towel-headed camel jockeys, these are warriors who happily die for their cause and their country and their religion. There is no grey area between those concepts for Islam. The Western world, even Brits with their Anglicism and Romans with their Catholicism, cannot quite conceive life without such compartmentalism. Perhaps the closest other religion I can think of that weaves life and faith would be the Native Americans.

Not that Islam has a lock on the concept, obviously. Peace pipe, anyone?


I'm also reading The Sword of Shanara, and I cannot make myself like this book. NOTHING is happening!! For pages and pages and pages. All they friggin do is walk through woods. They don't even TALK to each other!!! It's worse than The Two Towers for crissake.


There's a lot of talk about the new Kindle. I'm not all that hip on it, myself, but I'm a traditionalist. They say you can subscribe to blogs for 99 c. (Is that a daily rate or what?) Even Electric Spec has several different methods to download our content for free. I'd be damned irritated if someone else was making money off my magazine, even if it's just from distribution. I know what it takes to produce and distribute such content, and it's not that expensive. Only an idiot would pay to download a blog, or any other content that is, by right, free.

While we're on the subject of free: Googlebooks is under fire around the blogosphere (well, the writerly contigent) for reproducing content (books) on which the copyrights have run out. (I always though it should be copywrite-heh). If writers don't protect themselves by retaining rights to their work, then shame on them. And, clearly, copyrights expire and leave books open to philandering. I'm torn on this issue, and I think the rift begins with my death. I'd like to retain rights while I'm alive because I'm trying to do this for a living. But, if I have to choose between my words being locked up in my children's or grandchildren's estates or out there, free for the picking, I'd choose free. Call it artistic sensibility. I can afford to be an arteest after I'm dead.

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