War is something that needs no elaboration. Or, at the least, very little commentary from my snarky tongue. It’s a small word, one that rather just slides out of the mouth, very final and straightforward – like shutting a lid or closing a door. There is nothing fussy or frilly, no hill and vale of excessive syllables; the lips simply deliver in one breath a mound of meaning that spans the entire breadth of human history and the end of countless – really, countless – lives.
Say it out loud: WAR – and I’ll be the first to admit I know nothing about it. My concepts of battle are patched together from explosive cinematic moments reeking of Hollywood pathos and distant paragraphs jumbling dates and names over the fresh wounds of real life. All of my experience is colored or constructed – or just plain fabricated. The actuality of what it means to be a soldier or how combat looks and tastes on a body is utterly lost on me.
There will probably never be a day when I am delivered into the jaws of battle – I hope never to be in such a situation – but a starting point to understanding could easily be reached with the right guide. A former Marine, Vietnam Veteran and writer, Karl Marlantes offers such a guiding arm into the experience of war with his latest book, What It is Like to Go to War. Join him tomorrow night, Friday, October 19th, at Carmichael’s Bookstore for an eye-opening reading and signing.
A decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, author Karl Marlantes served as a Marine, earning the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for Valor, two Purple Hearts as well as ten air medals. His highly-acclaimed novel, Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, was honored with numerous awards as well for its depiction of young soldiers dropped into the heat of battle and forced to become men. With distinctions including the William E. Colby Award, the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan first Novel Prize and the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb Award for Distinguished Fiction, Marlantes revisits the battlefield once more a true and profound account of combat in What It is Like to Go to War.
Starting at 7pm tomorrow night, Marlantes will visit the Frankfort Avenue store for a reading, signing and discussion about how we might better prepare our soldiers for the psychological and spiritual aspects of war. Copies of What It is Like to Go to War are available in hardcover for $25.00 and in paperback for $15.00. Matterhorn is also for sale in paperback for $15.95.
War is not something I feel I have the right to trivialize with wit and wordplay. Maybe “war” as it has been fed to me is fair game for a silly woman with sarcastic ideas, but I’m not interested in pretending that this Technicolor “war” splattered in HD is enough. War is a word that I know, and it will take the words of one who has been to that place of real battle to give it the real meaning that it deserves.
Carmichael’s Bookstore has two area locations: 1295 Bardstown Road and 2720 Frankfort Avenue. For more information, visit the event page or call the Frankfort Avenue store at (502) 896-6950.
Image: Courtesy of Carmichael’s Bookstore website www.carmichaelsbookstore.com