For research on a story (sorry Doug, I’m tipping my hand), I spent last week reading Lemay, The Life and Wars of General Curtis Lemay, by Warren Kozak. Lemay rose rapidly through the Army Air Corps as WWII raged. He became the youngest two star general in the army, and later commanded the Strategic Air Command. Lemay coined the phrase “MAD”, or Mutually Assured Destruction, the theory which justified the arms race in the name of the Cold War ‘peace’. The premise of this policy, infamously being: if you attack us, we attack you, and everyone (literally) dies. He is often considered the inspiration for General Jack Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” Of course my understanding of the man changed considerably after reading the biography. My grandfather fought in the Pacific during WWII, and used to tell me that had we invaded Japan, a lot of people would have died, meaning, more or less, that I wouldn’t be here, one way or the other…but I digress.
I also picked up 19 Knives, by Mark Anthony Jarman, The Shell Collector, by Anthony Doerr, and a craft book recommended by our own Robin Oliveira, Writing for Story, by Jon Franklin. The Jarman frustrates me (in a good way, if possible)…he seems to get away with so much in his compact stories. How do you write a story about a guy who changes oil? Yet there it is: “Song from Under the Floorboards.” Doerr writes with a very wide grasp for such a young writer. I admire his skill and his touch. The Franklin book has challenged my understanding of structure in stories. More to follow…
Rich, There’s a pdf of an essay of mine called “How to Read a Mark Jarman Short Story” in the Class Resources folder. It was published in The New Quarterly 3-4 years ago.
Thanks for the reference. I started reading it this morning.
The thing I like about this blog is that you never know what you’ll see next.