August 10, 2008

Artist of Month and Review of Standard Operating Procedure

Sorry for the long radio silence. I was away for the last six weeks in Erie, PA teaching fiction writing at the PA Governor's School for the Arts. This was my eight summer up there. Hard to believe. It was glorious. The kids blow me away every year. Anyway, back to my excuse: My schedule up there is crazy (M-F 8 :00 am-6:30 pm, with a break for lunch and dinner, as well as a morning class of Saturday), so needless to say when it comes to the end of the week I do not feel like writing.

The other reason why I haven't been keeping up with the blog is because I'm beginning a new book project. And with a new book project--the working title is Any Poorer Than Dead--comes a new blog, which you can find over on Wordpress at It's really just a notebook, a place to throw words around, but you can check it out if you like.

All that aside, I felt compelled to write a post here because a couple Abu Ghraib/A Good War is Hard to Find related things have happened in the last week.

1.) The literary journal Image has named me Artist-of-the-Month. Check that out here. Image is a beautiful journal. Great production value. Great writing. Great people running it.

2.) My review of Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris' Standard Operating Procedure is up at If you read it, please bear in mind that my crankiness is the result of the fact that I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours reading articles and interviews about Abu Ghraib for my own book, and so I set the bar very high for a book whose publisher basically claims it is THE book to end all books on the subject. More than that, Penguin claims that it should be considered in the same league as Dante's Inferno, Heart of Darkness and "The Grand Inquisitor" of Brothers K fame. I'm a liberal arts educated kid, so I've read all of those books, and I'm here to say, it ain't in the same ballpark. Not that it's a bad book--quite the contrary. It's just not life-changing if you've kept up with coverage of the scandal the way I have. Although I have to say I'm concerned that this means I won't be publishing in the Paris Review EVER (aside: Gourevitch is the editor).

I'll continue to post here when relevant to Good War, but I'll be spending most of my energy over at the other blog, Any Poorer Than Dead.



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