I discovered that I was too nervous about the election even to read my usual round of blogs this morning. After I saw a post about shenanigans in Pennsylvania, my stomach did a little slip-sloppy thing, and I closed all the political blog tabs I had open. Until I get my equilibrium back, I thought I’d make this a book post.
I’m reading Dakota Meyer’s Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War, which he wrote with Bing West. I’m about halfway through and can already tell you a few things about it: First, it’s extremely well written. In the beginning, West’s voice was a little too strong, as he set the scene (making it more West novel than Meyer story), but either I got used to that voice or West sublimated his own writing style as the book went along. Second, it’s very interesting. This is a very different take (for me) on Afghanistan. Meyer was stationed in Afghanistan for quite a while before he found himself in the fight that earned him his Medal of Honor. Meyer describes the slightly dysfunctional relationship American troops have with Afghani troops, the difficulty dealing with Afghani villagers, and the terrain that allowed the Taliban to hold off both Soviets and Americans for so many years.
The only problem with the book is that I know how it ends: good people die. That’s why I’m reading it more slowly than usual, despite its being interesting and well-written. I just keep putting off those chapters where real people die real, painful, lonely deaths. That’s the problem with true war stories. In a novel, you can remind yourself that a fictional creation bit the dust. When reading a true war story, though, you can’t get out of your mind that a father will never again see his children or that a mother back home has lost her child forever. It’s rather pathetic that, sitting in my comfy reading chair at home, I’m less courageous than the men and women on the front lines, but that probably explains why I’m in my living room and they’re in Afghanistan.
On the subject of books, I continue to be fascinated by that Folio Society website I told you about. The link I just gave you is to another war story, although this one is fiction: Erich Maria Remarque’ All Quiet on the Western Front.” This is another book I’ve been meaning to read forever, but somehow haven’t gotten around to. After reading Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory, I’m as emotionally cowardly about WWI as I am about events in Afghanistan. Still, maybe I’ll be brave and try to entice myself into reading the book by buying a copy that’s aesthetically pleasing.
That’s the thing about these Folio Society books — they are so beautiful. They also make me feel kind of bad about getting rid of childhood classics. One of my craven secrets is that I never really liked Charlotte’s Web. I liked Stuart Little and The Once and Future King but Charlotte’s Web never worked for me. So, I got rid of my copy once I left my parent’s house for good. Too bad I didn’t realize it was a first edition. You can get a gorgeous Folio Society reprint of that first edition for only $40 at the Folio Society. My copy probably cost $3 back in the day. Oy!
Are you reading anything interesting today? Funny would be good. I need a funny book in my life.