M. C. Armstrong

December 18, 2015

Redeployment

Redeployment by Phil Klay. 291pp. $26.95 The Penguin Press, 2014.   Our early twenty-first century desire for “reality” now seems inseparable from the inception of the war on terror. Just after 9/11, Ian McEwan confessed that he nearly lost faith in the novel, saying in an interview that he considered “abandoning fiction and concentrating on fact.” McEwan’s sentiment was shared by the publishing industry, as evinced by shams like James Frey and Greg Mortenson. Our “reality hunger,” as David Shields called it, expressed itself as a national obsession with soldiers, addicts, cops, and doctors, the human beings who seemed to […]
November 4, 2015

Reading Terror: Representations and Resistance

Reading Terror: Representations and Resistance On November 5th and 6th, 2015, City University of New York (CUNY) will be hosting “Reading Terror:  Representations and Resistance,” an interdisciplinary conference that will address questions such as: What is the nature of terror?  How have representations, definitions and our understanding of terror changed over time?  How is terror used aesthetically, politically and socially?  How is terror translated textually and visually?  What are some of the modes of resistance to terror, through literature, art, and the media? Panels and Presenters (in order of schedule) Thursday Breakfast (9:00 – 10:00, room 4116) Welcome Panel – […]
August 30, 2015

The Unraveling

Nearly two decades after the end of World War I, Yeats wrote: “If war is necessary, or necessary in our time and place, it is best to forget its suffering as we do the discomfort of fever, remembering our comfort at midnight when our temperature fell, or as we forget the worst moments of more painful disease.” It is tempting to agree with Yeats, or to find wisdom in my colleague who recently said, when I asked what she thought about Guantanamo Bay: “I try not to think about that.” There are a number of ways to erase history. One […]
July 2, 2015

The Book of Men

The year is 2050.  The city is Baghdad.  The following is my contribution to The Book of Men, an anthology of short fiction curated by Colum McCann, Esquire, and Narrative 4.  Other contributors include Khaled Hosseini, Ian McEwan, and Salman Rushdie.  To purchase the entire volume, click here:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Book-Men-Eighty-Writers-ebook/dp/B00DA6XLYI     It was the hottest summer on record, the streets of August usually empty for fear of the heat. But as he traveled north on Haifa, Faris saw a crowd on the bridge: a cluster of buses, the scorched faces of beggars and protesters lining the sidewalks. To his right […]
May 4, 2015

The Secret Life of Bruce Ivins

Americans are both terrified and intoxicated by the word “conspiracy.” The suggestion of a criminal system—rather than a constant supply of lone “nut jobs” flying off the handle—seems to unsettle us. Many of us tend to shy away from the lessons of our parents’ generation, the lens of Watergate. We seem to prefer to see the world as particles, not waves. We find comfort in the micro, stress in the macro. The devil is in the details, right? Well, if the classic American dilemma is viewing a political crime as the product of either a lone wolf or a grand […]
April 28, 2015

The Ghost of Gulf War Syndrome

Wind is more than just wind in the deserts of Iraq. Wind stones. Wind sneaks into your ears. You understand the sickness of the first Gulf War a little better in the middle of a sandstorm because it’s here that you know through the sudden crunch in your teeth how the shit gets in. In the way that your tongue turns to paper and your nose starts to clot and your glasses ash, you start to know: what you bury in the ground, what you pile-drive deep into the earth becomes the earth, and when there’s no rain the earth […]