Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I am not a huge short story fan nor am I of collections but for some reason this one caught my ear/eye so I got it. I just wrapped it up today and it's sort of like old vinyl albums; there's a great song or two, some pretty good ones and some that, if they didn't have to fill up two sides of a record, might not have made the cut.

Some of these stories are really good. There are a couple I didn't finish and one I wish I hadn't read. But I think in the future we will hear/read more from Mr. Klay.

Warning - he's a former Marine, been to Iraq so there are plenty of the f-words to go around.

But he is telling some stories that draw you into his characters and make you feel for what our servicemen and women have been through in service to our country.

It doesn't come across as a pro- or anti-war thing. Just some slices of life during and after the war. (It is over, isn't it?)

If you enjoy reading about our current situations and those that lived (or not) through it, this might be worth grabbing.

Friday, April 25, 2014

In the New World

Just wrapped up another book; this time In the New World by Lawrence Wright.

Wright is better known for his lengthy Looming Towers about Al Qaeda and 9/11.

I'm not even sure how I heard of this or what prompted me to request at the library - I do that for so many books I often lose track of the whys etc.

But quickly I realized this book was a lot about my growing up.

Wright lived his formative years in Dallas and they overlap with many of mine. He is older but writes of the 60s (Kennedy assassination) and Dallas politics and then as he grows up and moves around, puts his own take on the events and politics of his time up through the mid-80s when he concludes the book (published in 1987 I think)

This will not interest everybody but if you are from Dallas, grew up in the 60s, lived through Vietnam ... then you might find something to like about this.

Caution; it is long and a slow read and in parts he wanders a bit but when he is writing about history and not how he felt, it holds up pretty well and serves as a good reminder of some of the seminal events most of us boomers lived through.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Suicide is not Painless

The story from Ft. Hood is sad on so many levels; for the families of those killed or injured, those who witnessed the shootings, those soldiers who are thinking “there but for the grace of God…” and more.

I’ve really only listened to one media report in the days following the shootings and it seemed like all they were looking for was a villain, someone to blame.

It has been said the shooter was being treated for PTSD and struggling with depression. He was angry about being denied a leave request. I’m sure more will turn up.

I recall reading in “Thank You For Your Service” about high-level meetings with military brass on how to reduce the suicide levels of those returning from combat.

In 2013 the suicide rate for veterans exceeded the number killed in combat. It has been called an epidemic.

This ( from the Huffington Post is a good summary of what is being done, the scope of the problem etc.

I did not start out for this to be about suicide. But based on what I’ve read, I am not surprised that the soldier ended up killing himself after his shooting rampage. A 2012 VA study showed that more than 20 veterans commit suicide every day! But those sad stories don’t make the front page or CNN; and we probably don’t want them to.

Is every veteran a ticking time bomb? Of course not. I hope the VA will re-double its efforts to remove the stigma of asking for help. It seems like they are trying but the problem is growing faster than they can do screenings, add hotlines, therapists and such.

I can’t offer any suggestions or solutions. Maybe a prayer or two is all I’ve got. I’ve been praying for a young man in Afghanistan for more than a year. Hopefully he is home safe by now and will find a way to adjust to this life we call normal. Maybe I just need to keep praying.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Artisan Soul

I heard about this from someone I follow on Twitter and was eager to read it.

I began it during my early morning devotional/reading time (a few chapters from the Bible - right now re-reading in Genesis from the Message version). It seemed like I was working too hard and not enjoying it much but I kept trying to give it a chance.

But I finally gave up. I almost felt guilty. I guess my soul is not artisanal enough.

No offense to Mr. McManus, a popular speaker and writer, but I found the writing to be simplistic and wooden or clunky. 

I would find a pithy nugget here or there but not enough breadcrumbs to keep me going down the road.

It may be just what some creative person needs to read right now but not for me.