No matter what my politics or my conflicted feelings about the media storm around Osama bin Laden’s death, I always celebrate and support the people who sacrifice any number of things – time, security, health and their lives – in the name of this country. I think a good way to help me brag on these folks, regardless of how you feel about the wars we’re involved in, is to check out these links for sending books to troops.
I love the idea of not only entertaining soldiers who can’t be home or safe, but maybe even changing their lives with a powerful book. A former soldier recently told me that they all got hooked on the Sex in the City tv series while he was stationed overseas and I loved how that attacked my own foolish expectations of what soldiers would find interesting.
This idea of enriching the lives of soldiers with the written word has been in my mind a lot lately. I keep remembering a picture that Jeanne Leiby showed me of two soldiers (in Afghanistan, I believe) reading copies of The Southern Review. They had their guns at the ready, leaning against their chairs, and copies of a literary magazine in their hands. And hopefully, in their minds and hearts afterwards. I wish I could find this picture to share with y’all. In inspires me.
And, of course, I have been thinking of Jeanne a lot lately. Partly because of her death a few weeks ago in a car accident. Maybe because, at the time she died, I was driving 11-12 hours a day for work and was actually on the same road as her, a few miles away. Possibly because I was in a car accident myself recently (I’m fine, though my car is not). But it’s not so much these uncomfortable vehicular coincidences I think of when I think of Jeanne. I think of that picture of the soldiers she showed me, things she said and things she loved.
Which brings me to my closing brag. I might never have reviewed Mark Richard’s House of Prayer No. 2 if it weren’t for Jeanne. She was so glad to publish a chapter from his memoir in The Southern Review, she talked him up so passionately, that I requested a review copy, read the book, loved it and came up with this nontraditional review of it for 225 Magazine. So, without my even fully realizing it, the tangential brags in this post are tied together by Jeanne, by her passion and enthusiasm. I’m glad for that coincidence.