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Book Review – War Porn by Roy Scranton

By Whatsheread

Title: War PornSummer Book Review Logo
Author: Roy Scranton
ISBN: 9781616957155
No. of Pages: 352
Genre: Literary Fiction
Origins: Soho Press
Release Date: 2 August 2016

Synopsis:

War porn,’ n. Videos, images, and narratives featuring graphic violence, often brought back from combat zones, viewed voyeuristically or for emotional gratification. Such media are often presented and circulated without context, though they may be used as evidence of war crimes.

War porn is also, in Roy Scranton’s searing debut novel, a metaphor for the experience of war in the age of the War on Terror, the fracturing and fragmentation of perspective, time, and self that afflicts soldiers and civilians alike, and the global networks and face-to-face moments that suture our fragmented lives together. In War Porn three lives fit inside one another like nesting dolls: a restless young woman at an end-of-summer barbecue in Utah; an American soldier in occupied Baghdad; and Qasim al-Zabadi, an Iraqi math professor, who faces the US invasion of his country with fear, denial, and perseverance. As War Porn cuts from America to Iraq and back again, as home and hell merge, we come to see America through the eyes of the occupied, even as we see Qasim become a prisoner of the occupation. Through the looking glass of War Porn, Scranton reveals the fragile humanity that connects Americans and Iraqis, torturers and the tortured, victors and their victims.”

My Thoughts: In War Porn, Roy Scranton looks at the second Iraq war from the perspective of three very different people at three different times in the war. The stories are extremely powerful. Moreover, it makes you look at the war and its impact in a whole different light.

Mr. Scranton has a way with words. He introduces each change in narrator with a hybrid stream of consciousness and poetry vignette that make for some of the most powerful sections of the entire book. Within each narrative, he paints a picture. Depending on the main character of that interlude, this picture is by turns idyllic, ominous, and downright frightening. The characters he creates are equally intense and realistic. Moreover, he does a fantastic job of explaining life in Iraq before and during the war.

The best part is that somehow Mr. Scranton never takes sides when it would be so easy to do so. He presents the corruption and fear of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as a matter of course. He captures the fear of the impending occupation. He describes the US military presence and its attempts amid the confusion and bigotry that exists. He shows the impact the tension, fear, and confusion have on returning veterans and their struggle to assimilate to society as well. Through them, he places the reader into the action and creates an entirely new method of experiencing the war.

Mr. Scranton’s scathing look at the second Iraq war from various perspectives should end up being the definitive novel of that war. In it, he spares no one or nothing from his fierce gaze. The fact that Mr. Scranton spent fourteen months in Iraq with the Army only serves to lend credence to his characters and their experiences. The reading experience is brutal and uncomfortable but extremely important to understand both sides of the conflict. War Porn is not a novel that one can recommend on the basis of reading enjoyment but rather for importance to current events.

War Porn by Roy Scranton

BOTTOM LINE: A must-read if only because it is an important portrait of the Iraq war.

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Comments

  • Yes, the stream of consciousness parts set off each change in ... by Michelle
  • I tried the sample of this one, but was so turned off by the ... by Sarah's Book Shelves

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