For those of you who’ve seen one of my “Rants of the Week”, you know I can be cruel with these posts. Guess what? It’s three days until Christmas, according to my time zone. Therefore I shall do an Ebenezer and make myself merry. I’ll even write a positive “Rant”. Happy holidays.
RANT OF THE WEEK: A Brilliant Idea By A Brave Man
When World War I hit Europe, the response of culture was something more fragmented and cynical than what had come before. The Romanticism of James Fenimore Cooper and Nathaniel Hawthorne yielded to the harsh bite of Ernest Hemingway and Sigfried Sassoon. Literature was never quite the same.
Or was it? An Englishman named J.R.R. Tolkien survived those horrors as well. You might be familiar with some fantasy titles he wrote. His work seethes with pain and loss, but never with the same harshness as some other veterans of war. In fact, it’s remarkably beautiful. Perhaps it is even more beautiful than anything Cooper ever wrought with his pen, or even Hawthorne.
That’s why I’m excited and proud to hear about Benjamin Buchholz. This man went through the war in Iraq as an officer for the American army. On only his second day, a little girl was killed in an accident. Who knows what other dark things he saw after that. In any case, upon his return he decided to write a fiction book.
All of the works I’ve heard of concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem hard-boiled to me. Generation Kill and The Hurt Locker don’t have many traces of Romanticism in them. Breaking the trend (according to my limited knowledge) is Buchholz’ novel One Hundred and One Nights, about a scarred man who befriends a girl. Every night, his new friend tells him a story; Buchholz specifically drew from Scheherazade’s famous exploits to inspire his own work.
The Baltimore Sun was the first link to alert me about this. Buchholz has some amazing things to say about his literature and his experience. Give yourself an early Christmas present and see what he has to say.
I think this could be a little different from the usual take on the Middle East. I know little about the modern literature that surrounds that (I haven’t even read The Kite Runner), but that doesn’t cool my excitement. Once I pay for next semester’s college tuition, I may want to save up and get a copy of this book. I feel like taking a chance.
STORYTELLER OF THE WEEK
If you even need to know why, go read “The Christmas Carol”. Or check out my laud to one chapter that he wrote (the greatest chapter of any novel, anywhere, any time). All hail the master.