Carolyn Names GI Films from Iraq
Literature of the New Millennium
look now but technology isn't the only thing that is changing faster
than the speed of light. So is literature. Trouble is, it feels
as if it is sliding backwards at warp speed, rather than moving
few short decades ago radio turned away from "The Haunting
Hour" and "Burns and Allen" to meaningless rants
and conversations between hosts with no couth and listeners who
news has become entertainment that panders to the lowest common
denominator and little known bloggers have filled the void once
occupied by reporters who were once concerned about preserving our
freedoms when they dug up and exposed news that wasn't favorable
to whomever was in power.
have become formulas and audiences are sheep who must have quick
cuts and precisely placed plot points or we deem them "slow"
upon a time creativity was allowed to run rampant in novels and
the world's tolerance for different voices was fertile soil for
the likes of Joyce and Faulkner to bloom.
today the scent of hope for the future is in the air. On March 14,
the Los Angeles Times' "First Column" reported that our
soldiers are developing their own art form. New technology allows
our GIs to carry small camcorders and miraculously they have not
been prevented from doing so. They are shooting real life, horror-ridden
battle scenes. They are snipping them, adding music or leaving the
moans of combat there for all to hear.
are using their films as therapy. The Times reports that Daniel
Nelson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati
School of Medicine views them as stories we create about our lives.
He says "Part of the healing process is for them to create
a narrative, to organize an emotional story that allow them to get
a handle on it." Most authors who write memory-based fiction
or nonfiction view their writing in exactly the same way.
soldiers view their videos as an exercise in freedom of speech.
A few cross the line into much darker areas; there will always be
those who draw their boundaries much lower than the culture at large
but for one to limit the expression of others is always problematic
because each of us traces our own line of acceptance at different
heights using different capacities for understanding and compassion
in our assessments. These movies are memoirs--visceral as the best
books in that genre. These works are molded by a combination of
desperation and the human need for expression. How can we say they
are "wrong" or "right?"
all understand that. Some GI filmmakers believe their own films
are nothing more than trophies from the alleys of Baghdad. (My uncle
thought the German Lugar he brought from the front in 1943 was a
souvenir; he now knows that it was much more than that.)
some battlefield directors will not need to wait four decades to
find meaning in what they are sending home via e-mail or stuffing
into their duffle bags. They know their films are more than memorabilia
or documentation even as they point their cameras at what most of
us don't want to see.
critics--both within the armed services and outside of them--are
condemning the films and those who made them because they do not
tell the stories as our politics or our preconceived notions would
have them told. Still, these films reflect the souls of our fighting
men and women. And that is a positive sign. Great literature does
not bow, smile and scrape. It explores whatever is important to
its time and it does so even if the sensibilities of some might
Each month in this box, Carolyn lists
a writing or promotion tidbit that will help authors and a
tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected books
or a sapphire among the newly-published.
demand for my THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR
PUBLISHER WON'T has been so great I started a free newsletter
called “Sharing with Writers” that will continue
to feed tips and resources on book promotion and writing to
authors long after they've read FRUGAL. Send an e-mail to
“subscribe” in the subject line
Tip: Books with a Thanksgiving theme
are hard to find. PILGRIM GIRL: DIARY AND RECIPES FROM HER
FIRST YEAR IN THE NEW WORLD by Jule Selbo and Laura Peters
is being released this month. It may be ordered at http://starpublish.com/starbooks.htm
as an e-book and as a paperback on Amazon. Teachers will use
this as a resource for a creative Thanksgiving unit in their
classrooms; grandparents and parents will love it. Kids will
"eat it up."
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