Fire and Forget: New Stories for New Wars

Friday, March 15, 2013

The legacy of war literature is a rich one. You've been telling us about the books that shape your experiences — for Brian in Southfield, Michigan, it was "Red Badge of Courage" by Stephen Crane. Maria in Hollywood, Florida had her eyes opened by the World War II writing of Soviet poets Alexandr Tvardovskiy and Konstantin Simonov.

When Matt Gallagher returned from the Iraq War, he discovered he needed to write his own stories.  He is co-editor of "Fire and Forget," a new collection of short stories by Iraq and Afghan war veterans (and their family members) on the experience of modern warfare.

"These are the first protracted wars fought by an all volunteer force, so that puts a completely different spin on the writing that's going to emerge," he said. "Further, it's been over 10 years of war -- two different fronts -- so there's no one narrative, no one story to emerge."

Elizabeth Samet, professor of English at West Point Military Academy, studies war literature, and teaches it to young soldiers-in-training. "There hasn't been a punctuation mark yet.  There hasn't been some way to call this over," she says of the war experience -- and the difficult transit many soldiers face as they return to civilian life. "That manifests itself in the way many of these stories are told, in that they bounce back and forth, flashing back and forward to the different settings" of the front line and the home front.

They discuss new literature responding to the Iraq War -- and the literature that helps soldiers make sense of combat.  They also respond to listeners' stories of the books that shaped their understanding of war.



Matt Gallagher and Elizabeth Samet

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Comments [3]

Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from bk

I want to thank all the listeners for their great book recommendations. May I add mine: "Johnny Got His Gun" by Dalton Trumbo. One of the best veteran's perspective ever written.

Mar. 15 2013 04:11 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

"The nicest veterans in Schenectady, I thought, the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who'd really fought."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 1

Shit... charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500. - From Apocalypse Now

Mar. 15 2013 12:53 PM
Kay Merkel Boruff from Dallas

Writing helps you understand what you feel. When I returen a widow with PTSD, writing helped me cope. My husband Jon Merkel was KIA flying for Air America in Laos 18 Feb 70. After 38 years teaching English in Middle School in a girls' school in Dallas, I volunteer at the VA Hosp in Dallas teaching creative writing and computer skills in their Veteran Recovery Center [PTSD, addiction, & brain trauma]. Volunteers in acting, music, & writing recently wrote & produced a play with musical scenes generated from veteran stories & original music. We hope to present the multi-intelligence program on a national level. BRAVO! to both Matt Gallager & Elizabeth Samet. I look forward to reading FIRE & FORGET. Elizabeth, thanks for you service helping our young vets. Literature teaches us how to live in a 2013 world.

Mar. 15 2013 12:30 PM

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