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Redployment vs. The Corpse Exhibition

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Thanks to William Vollman’s piece at Bookforum for directing me to the following two collections of stories about Iraq, one from a U.S. perspective, the other from an Iraqi. Below are two excerpts indicative of the power of story:

The Corpse Exhibition, stories within stories:  “The man with the beard was a teacher who went to the police to report on a neighbor who was trading in antiquities stolen from the National Museum. The police thanked him for his cooperation. The teacher, his conscience relieved, went back to his school. The police submitted a report to the Ministry of Defense that the teacher’s house was an al Qaeda hideout. The police were in partnership with the antiquities smuggler. The Ministry of Defense sent the report to the U.S. Army, who bombed the teacher’s house by helicopter. His wife, four children, and his elderly mother were killed. The teacher escaped with his life, but he suffered brain damage and lost his arms.”

Redployment, one sentence:  “She spent all his combat pay before he got back, and she was five months pregnant, which, for a Marine coming back from a seven-month deployment, is not pregnant enough.”

Whether legend or reality, the stories confront corruption, indifference, misplaced justice, and lack of responsibility, always a consequence of war. These two books are about how war exacerbates pain. To enter into war we must be certain the net result will surpass the human cost.

Written by Caleb Powell

June 19, 2014 at 6:06 am