|You Need To Read This Book, Really|
What I want from prose is similar to what I want from poetry: to leap into the unknown. Elizabeth Bishop stated that what she liked in poetry was "to see the mind in motion." Of course the literal mind is a messy thing filled with desires for honey crisp apples and a nap --- but what Turner gives us is a new way into the mind of one soldier -- an Iraq war veteran.
However, it is in the last third of the book, after Turner returns home where things really get interesting.
"Countries are touching countries and I cross over from one to another, trying to shake the past and find a world I can live in" (162).
The return to "home" or in Turner's case, the return that actually becomes a completely different world from the life he had known before the war is, for this reader, the most interesting aspect of the book. In the final chapters Turner employs the surreal mixing the true strangeness of war's aftermath with the book's documentary style.
"Journalists shuffle into our bedroom and wait patiently for us to finish making love. They want me to talk about suicide. They want me to talk about hand-to-hand combat--- something I really know nothing about. They want a modern definition for the word obscenity and the word slaughter "(171).
In my time teaching college English and Film Studies I've had many Iraq veterans come through my classes. Perhaps this book will help me understand a little more of their struggles. Perhaps not.
There is no blueprint for dealing with trauma. Turner tells us this without telling us. Instead, weeks after I finished reading this book I am still thinking of all the ghosts he walks beside. The ghosts that as readers we also begin to see in the supermarkets as we fill our carts, in line at the bank, and at the edge of our fingertips as we work to make sense of war.