Journal Postings

Group A & B

03/12/02 (War Memorials)

Group A:

Lisa Bard

One thing that bothered me through the book was why his father fired Nolan. The reason his father gives seems more of a personal reason then a professional reason. True that they are related but if Nolan was a good salesman why fire him? It never even mentions that the company was a family business. I'm a strong believer of separating business and family. Though Nolan was wrong for forging his father's name, it should have been strictly a family issue nothing getting fired over.

 It seems to me that if Steve Pitts has ditch panic then why does Nolan think that he has ditch panic too. They seem to be very different individuals. For one thing Nolan is married and Steve is cheating with his wife. Steve seems to be the typical football jock type of guy that everyone is afraid of. Nolan seems like the skinny boy who is liked by everyone. They have to very different personalities.   

I donít understand why his life was in ditch panic. Maybe before he got fired he was in ditch panic but now that he is living his life day by day you would think he is more free. On the other hand, I can see a ditch panic situation with his wife because he could be stuck in a marriage with a women who does love him anymore and not being able to fall in love with anyone else because of his marriage.


Ewa Budzynska  

"War Memorials" was not an easy reading for me and I think I will be able to fully appreciate the book if I read it carefully once more. The major difficulty was the language: vivid and detailed descriptions of situations and people, clever observations about life. That was not for quick reading, especially for someone like me, who needs time to follow the conversations and grasp all the puns in a foreign language. Nevertheless, I think that the book was interesting and what I liked most in the first half of it were the main character's (narrator's) reflections on his life, on the people he knew and life in general. Let me just quote some of them:

"Taste swallows itself in a minute or two, but a good smell can hang in the mind forever. Of course, so can a bad one."(p.17)

"Here's something I wonder: is there such a thing as the speed of darkness?" (p. 40)

"I mean, it's hard to believe in Jesus as it is, without having him look like some Norwegian movie star doing a shampoo commercial." (p. 84)

"Ö I don't seem inclined to cry over big things anymoreÖ Instead, it's little stuff that sets me off, things that don't mean anything to anybody." (p.87)

Another thing that I enjoyed while reading the book were the funny passages, sometimes with a bitter kind of humor, like for example the tragic death of the lizard and its burial, or Darwin's excursion to the amusement park, or Nolan's recollection of his first meeting with Jesus "unpacking canned peaches back by the meat counter".

Here are two websites that I found:

I chose them because they explained to me the things that I had never before learnt about: what Agent Orange was (mentioned in the book in connection to Jerry Rathburn) and when the Creek War was fought (Nolan's father wants to take his son to Horseshoe Bend).


R. Eric Burdette  

The first half or so of this book is reading very nicely.  I like the down-to-earth style that it is written in.  The style of this book is very modern, reminding me of my favorite contemporary author, Sherman Alexie.  However, one of the themes that I see emerging can be found in Beowulf, one of the oldest works in English.  I see this emerging theme of trying to successfully integrate war/violence and Christianity.

The narrator describes the citizens of the town of Lincoln as very military people; it seems as though a very large majority of the men of the town have served in the military.  This contrasts with the deep-seated religious convictions that the townsfolk also seem to have.  Following this point further, in what I have read so far it seems as though the men of the town seem to have been involved with the military; and the older women seem to have the deep-seated religious convictions.  This goes way back to the beginning of the Industrial Age, when men and women were separated into their own spheres.  The womanís sphere was the home and involved spiritual aspects, while the male sphere was outside the home as the breadwinner and would tend to involve more violence.

One thing that fascinated me as I read was the narratorís father describing his part in the firebombing of Dresden.  There seemed to be some sort of a struggle in the narratorís father; on one hand he is one of the most respected war heroes of the town and is decorated for his part in the war, and more specifically the raid on Dresden, on the other hand he must realize that he took part in the killing of innocent lives.  I think the narratorís father sees his own paradox, and I am wondering if this will be developed on more later in the book.

Here is a site on the bombing of Dresden.


Jamie Burke


Matthew Chiles

The part in this book that took my interest in the first half of it was when they were at the hospital when they rushed their friend there because of a snakebite. When he asked the doctor if he was going to be all right.  The doctor seemed to not know anything about snakebites.  He said people have died from spiders or things of that but from snakebites.  I feel that this dose not make since because he is a doctor and he should know if the person that was bitten is going to be alright.

The next part at the hospital when he was talking to Colonel Hereford about the Great War that he was in, and the trenches in the war.  I thought it was interesting to read about the trenches they fought in the war.  He talked about how awful the trenches were to be in during the war.  They had to stand in water, and mud, and could barely see out of it without getting shot at.

The Internet site that I found was on trenches used in wars.  I found that the pictures and the captions were interesting to read about.  It shows how crammed the soldiers were in the trenches, and how small of an area they could sit in.     


Tony Cleveland

A few interesting stories stuck out when I read War Memorials.   The first involved Jimmy, his father, during his days in the military.  It was a story about the Dresden raid and the D.S.C. that until that moment he had never told his son about.  I thought this was interesting because Jimmy saw that day as just a bad day while the other guy behind the counter said the week off would have been like paradise. I thought this story was interesting since it showed how different the two men viewed that one act from the war. It also showed how knowing the entire story and living through an event shapes the way one sees something.  Another story that I thought was interesting was when Nolan thought that he saw Jesus at the supermarket.  He was so proud about his discovery that he had to tell someone. I liked that story because it showed how easily children can mistake things that we take for granted. 

So far I think Nolan is barely keeping his life in control.  I think that there has been a lot of bad invents happening him to in a fairly close time frame that would be enough to keep some people down.  Things like the tree falling onto his house, him not having insurance, and then losing his job sounds like more than enough for one person to struggle to through.  On top of all that his marriage has fallen apart in front of him.  For every negative thing that happens to him he manages to bounce back with something good.  Like when he helps the boy bitten by the cottonmouth and spends his time at the fair watching over Darwin.  Nolan character just doesn't give up even though the future does not always look bright.

I found this website,, which talks about the b-24 in some more detail. The problem with the bomb deploying in War Memorials caught my interest, so I wanted to find if the b-24 had any other common problems.  I found that it was never as popular with its crews as the B-17 because it was quicker to catch fire in battle and suffered numerous hydraulic problems.  These were two problems that the site listed.


Kyle Cutnaw  

The website I found is related to inspiration. It contains quotes, books, and stories on topics like life, dreams, and success. It is a rather commercialized site, but it still provides some insight that may give people a new way of looking at things. It is found at:

I really enjoyed this book, because it deals with all of the changes that occur in the lives of people. War Memorials provides examples of how sometimes life does not always go the way you want it to. Nolan appears to be living in his father's shadow in a comfort zone established by his father. But then, a series of events alters his life dramatically. Nolan has to deal with being fired by his father, working as a repo man, his wife having an affair, and even his wife having a baby with another man. In the end, he is together with his wife, working at a Salvation Army store. Nolan conquers his demons one at a time and finally gains an understanding of his own life. The last paragraph in the book shows his understanding of the way life goes. "And the change didn't bother me much anymore. I'd learned a lot lately about the way things come and go. The way the uncertainty marries itself into every breath we take. The way the guesswork keeps us moving. I'd grown to like the unhinged balance of it all. The way a storm spends itself in a downpour. The way blue repossesses the sky."

I also thought that this book was very appropriate for our class. Many of the students in our class will graduate within this year, and many of us have no idea what to do with our lives once college is over. This book provides some reassurance that very few people have it all together. Nolan is a grown man, and he still searched for direction. We can gain comfort in knowing that we will never know it all, but rather have an appreciation change and adapting to it.


Group B:

Adam Drake


William Fisher


Bradley Immel

This is an interesting book.  It doesnít seem to have a specific storyline that is easily followed, but instead, all of the events seem to be connected in some way.  It seems a bit disconnected from itself at first, but as you continue to read, it seems to loop around and go back to some of the topics it talked about.  One example of this is when he went into his house and it reminded him of Jerry Rathburnís house with all of the darkness and shadows around.  Another time was when he was reminded of the death of the lizard, Randall when he was stuck in the Ferris wheel and how Laney had blamed him for it.  Other than these references, each chapter seems to be pretty disconnected to the others.  While this can be a bit confusing at times when McCown is jumping from one topic to a completely different one, I think that having the book set up almost like a series of short stories instead of a novel with a straight storyline keeps your attention better than a novel would for the most part.  At least thatís how it was for me.  The story of Nolanís father Jimmy also proves as an example of the effects of participating in war.  It seemed like he had a lot of trouble talking about some of the things that happened while he was in the war.  Some of the experiences he had were too traumatizing for him to talk about.  And also, the fact that he supposedly died in the war two times put a lot of emotional strain on his family as well.  Finding out that their son was dead, and having a funeral, then finding out that he was dead ďagainĒ and then having him come home would really be hard for a family to go through I think.  A lot of confusion and mixed emotions and stress would arise Iím sure.

The website I had can be found at and is a review of the book itself.  I tried to find an online biography of McCown, but wasnít able to find much.  This review, as far as Iím concerned, seems to be fairly accurate to what I have read in the book so far.


Erika Keegan


Jill Kerlin

War Memorials reads pretty easily, but I have to admit I was a little confused by the unconnectedness of some of the stories and their importance to the whole.  I have seen some clarification the further I read and maybe there's some underlying theme with the disconnectedness and confusion that he's experiencing in his own life.  I am still just a little confused about his relationship with his wife, Laney.  Of course it's apparent that she has been having an affair with Steve Pitts and Nolan feels resentment towards him, but he doesn't seem to be that angry with Laney.  Nolan even talks about the room that will be for the baby that isn't his (perhaps that was meant to be taken sarcastically?) -- is she not going to move out or get separated?  He doesn't seem to directly address where their marriage took a turn for the worse; if it was Laney's affair that started it or if the problems in their marriage led to Laney's affair.  From what we've seen of Steve's character, he doesn't really seem like that great of a guy for her to want to leave Nolan.

There is also a large portion of the novel dedicated to veterans and he war effort, thus the title, but I don't necessarily see where this fits into place, especially in his relationship with his father.  Being a soldier had such a great impact on his father's life, yet he didn't even know the events surrounding this until he's a grown man.  The fact that he inadvertently killed the two people on the landing strip really seemed to dishearten him and is perhaps he never shared war stories with his son because he didn't feel deserving of the attention and honors that he received.  I have seen this in other veterans - ones that have not even killed anyone.  I'm sure that the things that they experienced are just too horrific for non-soldiers to imagine and for them to remember.  We train  our boys that they should feel proud and not hesitate to defend our country, even if that does mean that they need to learn to kill.  I just don't think that killing another human being is inherent and it's unrealistic for us to expect soldiers to come through such traumatizing experiences without major repercussions.  There are also different ways in which we see the effects of war on soldiers.  Nolan's father seems to have led at least a marginally fulfilling life and the few men playing cards in the bar seem to value their time in the forces, but things turned out very differently for Jerry who got so caught up in drugs and ended up dying alone in his home. 

In this same arena, I found a website that gives accounts of some soldiers during WWII and the repercussions it had on them http// 


Lisa Langood

I enjoyed this book.  I usually do enjoy character-based fiction.  I liked how we got to know the characters bit by bit as the story went along.  Most books Iíve read tell you the main characterís whole life story in the beginning and continue from there.  Had we been told everything about Nolan in the beginning, such as how his brother died minutes after he was born, and how his mother killed herself, it would have made him a subject of pity.  Instead we are allowed to see him go on with his life, but occasionally we can see how these events still haunt him, but he has been able to cope.  The story reminded me in a way of Roger and Me, how someone is going around his hometown and meeting all kinds of bizarre characters. 

As a religion major, there were two characters that stood out to me:  Brother Willis, the snake handling preacher, and Chet, the Jesus impressionist.  Iíve heard a little about snake handlers and I wondered what theology theyíre operating under.  I canít recall anything like that in the Bible.  I found a web site at, which gave a short description of the history and beliefs of snake handlers.  They are part of the Pentecostal movement and originated somewhere around Eastern Tennessee in the early twentieth century.  They are fundamentalists who read the Bible literally.  They get their beliefs about handling the snakes from Mark 16:17-18, where Jesus said "And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues: they shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover."  (Somehow I donít think this is what Jesus meant.) The handlers believe that they have been anointed by the power of God and will be protected from snakebites.

The character of Chet the Jesus impersonator reminded me of a web site I found: ( I know this isnít the section of the book that I was supposed to respond to, but this site is so bizarre that I had to share it.)  It sounds like it would be a religious site, but once you see the line on the homepage ďJesus seeks loving womanĒ, itís obvious that it isnít.  Itís a personal ad from a guy who has long hair and dresses like Jesus.  He tells about himself and what he is looking for in a woman.  There is even an opportunity for women from the DC area to win a chance to bathe with Jesus, during which ďJesus will be available and eager to speak to you about spirituality if desired. If you are not spiritual, Jesus will share a beer and pleasant existential banter.Ē  When I first saw this site I thought it was a joke.  Iím still not sure if it is or not. 


Angel Lombardo-Edwards

I really enjoyed this book, but I am so confused about how in the world the lower class survive and how in the world they deal with their situation on a day to day basis.  I mean here I go to the worth center and deal with this on a personal level and I read this book and it all correlates.  And the funny part is that I am not sure quite what correlates.  What in the world was this book about?  Was its point on the war and how it was looked upon so highly in this community?  Was this book about how perhaps the lower class uses and praises force and its use even in war?  Was this book about the poverty of the people in it and how that causes a great deal of stress and social problems?  And who was Laneys babies father?  And her sisters?  Oh my god if I have to hear one more story this week of paternity and whose is whose and how many babies can one woman have with all different daddies.  And is that all normal?  Am I abnormal?  Donít answer that! 

I did understand however the general message.  Money spent on all those war memorials, when the real hero, the real victims, were people living day to day life.  Perhaps this story was about growth, human struggle, life in general.  Whatever, doesnít matter too much to me.  I liked it, I like a book that I have to read for college that is worth reading, which is very few.

My web page

This is a cute site, not much to it, but if we are to really meet this author are we allowed to bring beer like they do to the fireside chat????  Thursday is my night off!  This is the first time I will ever meet someone who has a published book, which I think is interesting.  Am looking forward to it.  Sorry my response is so short this week, most people are thankful when I decide to be quiet, so take it as a gift.


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