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"If there�s a magic pony in the story, chances are I�ll read it. I feel like I write about magic ponies a lot. Part of that is what keeps me interested, but also that I have a hard time telling the stories or, not so much the stories, but the sort of emotional transformations that occur to me, as possible and interesting to describe. I always have a much easier time with the help of a magic pony or a crabby angel or a ghost of a suicide or whatever."
Errol Morris handed over his tapes and transcripts to Gourevitch and then Gourevitch, with help from Morris, produced this book. It�s this last fact I�m having a hard time getting over. With the moral and ethical calculus worked out ahead of time by Morris, it seems that Gourevitch simply had to cut and paste relevant lines from the transcripts into a Word document. What results is a story expertly told -- if you�re only going to read one book on Abu Ghraib, then this is it -- but one that feels surprisingly hollow.
"But as for trying to tell stories that have gone untold... that�s what I�ve been trying to do all along, and certainly with my first two novels. America has a very uncomfortable relationship with its soldiers, especially its young enlisted soldiers. As a country we love to wave the flag and yell rah-rah, but relatively few really know who it is who wears the uniform, and what those people are really like, and why they�re in the uniform to begin with."
This latter breed of sensational Prozac Lit sometimes plants itself squarely in one camp or the other -- celebrating or reviling SSRIs (Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors) like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft -- but many are smugly centrist. Reading these books is, well, depressing. The pro- and anti-pill screeds are innocuous. It�s the earnest, aw-shucks accounts of how �antidepressants are sometimes misused, but they�ve also have helped millions of people� that cloy. In a lot of Prozac Lit favorites, the systems that govern how drugs are created, how they�re tested and how they reach the public go unexamined.
Another book to tell about what women want, and another male to tell it. If Island Press�s marketing crew inserted the what women want phrase in More�s subtitle to boost sales the cute way, let me tell them, it�s more wearying than witty, more off-putting than playful. Let�s lose the essentialism already. Who thinks anymore in terms of women � or men or gays or Republicans or Muslims -- as a demographic with cookie-cutter-designed desires?
Barbara J. King
Robert McDonald said of a shift in people�s interest in reading, �Asking a bookseller if they see a decline in reading is like asking a baker if they see a decline in the interest in pies -- we are surrounded at all times by colleagues, friends, and customers who care about the written word, and for the most part we attribute any decline in sales to the encroachment of chain stores and Amazon shopping and not because people no longer care about reading.�
"It�s almost easy for a writer because New Jersey has some strong characteristics. Let�s face it, there are nail salons in every state, but there really are a ton of nail and tanning salons in New Jersey and they do have the best names of any state. It�s just easy pickings! The easiest are the Sopranos clich�s, but if you move beyond that, there�s some texture there for sure."