Journal Postings

Group C & D

03/14/02 (War Memorials)

Group C:

Rachel Mack                  


Amanda Mills i will discuss the parts i have absorbed while reading this book. I'm not sure of what this book is trying to tell us. i'm interested in the hearing the reason that went into writing this book. at times all i feel is pity for the small town full of war vets. because all they do is sit around and either talk about past wars or go to old battle memorials. this small sleepy town seems boring. i guess that is mean of me to say in that maybe all small southern towns are like this. but i can't help but be bored by everything. i just want to yell at nolan and tell him to quit being lazy and get off his butt and win his wife back, get a job, and fix his house. I want to tell his father to quit being so high and mighty and treat his son with respect. I don't know if i will have the guts to ask the author about the tone of his book but i hope by listening to him i will understand it better. i choose this web site because i personally think that nolan would be a different person if his relationship with his father had been more positive.

Magdalena Perz

I must admit that I have mixed feelings about “War Memorials” by Clint McCown. On the one hand, I enjoyed the book because I found some passages very funny. Besides, owing to it, I could learn many interesting things about the Americans and their different forms of entertainment. I am really glad that I could get to know something about such a typically American phenomenon as for example derby. Actually, before reading this book, I associated it only with horserace.  Another reason why I liked the text was the fact that there were no taboo subjects for the author. Consequently, we get a full description of the corpse of Jerry Ruthburn, we can admire the extraordinary ”figure of Jesus” who uses swear words, etc. I wonder how the real southerners, spending all their lives in a small town where the church is the center of the community, would react to such a treatment of those issues.

On the other hand, according to me, some parts were pretty boring. I must say that usually I do not enjoy any stories, which are set in small towns of the South. I just cannot put up with unnecessarily long descriptions of one event. That is why sometimes I had to skip several sentences to be able to continue reading. What is more, I do not like books, which try to make the impression of being based on a true story or at least some vague real experience, but which, in fact, do not have a lot in common with reality. In my opinion, this is the case with “War Memorials”. I think that such an easy reconciliation after a serious marital crisis Laney and Nolan had would be highly unlikely. Furthermore, I am very curious whether nowadays anyone has such an attitude towards wars as the citizens of Lincoln. The importance they attached to heroes and the military past was shocking for me. And it is quite significant that the younger generation has a different point of view. Nolan did not even try to hide that he was strongly against raising money for another monument.

Just to finish my response and to make it more balanced, I’d like to enclose one of the passages I liked:

“But I understand now why fortune- tellers had to work with palms. The face had to many futures to wear. The hand was a much safer map.” (219)

This time I chose 2 different websites. The first one may seem a bit ridiculous because it is targeted at kids. However, it has some interesting links e.g. to the page concerning the Creek War.

The second web site shows locations of different battles of the Civil War. What is more, it also contains some information about each of those military events:


Jennifer Peterson

War Memorials was a wonderful book for us to read. I loved to read it because it was fast to read and there were some truly genius insights about Nolan and the way that life goes. The relationship that really intrigued me was the one with his wife. Starting with page 5 where Nolan gave us a glimpse of what his relationship was like.

He started off by saying, "The one thing Laney didn't know...", and ended with "The third thing Laney didn't know...". It seemed as though he was keeping track so that he would be very aware just how much he was not telling her. It also seemed that there was probably more than just three things that he had not told her.

I absolutely loved the section on page 38, "And I did like (Randall). He wasn't cute, or friendly, or clever, or affectionate, or any of the other things Laney imagined him to be. But he was stoic. I had to give him that." With an animal like Randall the people can make his personality to fit themselves. So Laney is cute, friendly, clever, and affectionate. She may not be these things to Nolan anymore but when he talks about their past he does show us that she was like that. Nolan on the other hand is stoic. All of these terrible things are happening to him, like finding the dead body, getting fired from his job, and a tree falling on his house, just to name a few. And he really does not react like a normal emotional person. He doesn't talk to anyone about it unless they ask him and even then he doesn't go it details.

At the end I think that Nolan nails the problem for any relationship problem. "We knew way too much about each other without really knowing anything at all. And talking that out would be like swapping our coffin-nail collections." ( page 216) After so long people stop talking to each other. I think that sometime they just forget. They have been with that person for so long that the other person is like a chair that has been sitting beside theirs for years. They just forget the chair is there. Then one day they remember about all the terrible things they have done and how they need to talk about them. But it is too late. 

They don't know how the other person is going to react. So they just sit in silence.
Jerry the dog is also a reflection of Nolan. Laney doesn't want to mess with the dog. She doesn't want to take the time with him and she is scared of what he might do. This is the same with her relationship with Nolan. She doesn't want him around and yet I think that she was afraid to tell him whose baby it was because that might be the one thing that sets him off. Nolan on the other hand says that the dog has had a rough time and that they should take some pity on him. I think that this was a plead to Laney.

I am not really sure if they "make it" or not but I think that they have a chance and that is all anyone has really. He does foreshadow for us to tell us that they both work at the Salvation Army, rebuilt the family room, keep Jerry, and keep the baby. This only gives us a blue print of his future without emotion. I guess this leaves it open for a sequel.


Lori Pongtana

Response for the second half of "War Memorials"

Destiny.  Nolan Vann, the main character in "War Memorials", made a point that his destiny was decided by a battle between his ancestors.  He spoke about The Battle of the Horseshoe towards the end of the novel so I was intrigued to read about what actually occurred.  Something else that appealed to me was trying to figure out why Nolan had to explain his existence.  He seemed to be rationalizing as to why he was alive and what his purpose in life was.

The Battle of the Horseshoe took place on March 27, 1814 between General Andrew Jackson's milita and a small group of the Creek Indians who actually went by the name of the Red Sticks.  I understand why Nolan mentioned that the women from the Red Sticks had to marry white men because approximately 800-900 Creeks were killed in the battle.  I did not realize that this battle was one of the bloodiest.  According to Nolan, the image of the battle he was portraying came across as being devastating but not savage.  Also, I did not know that Jackson's image became more popular because Alabama became a state shortly after the battle.  There were even Native Americans from different tribes fighting with Jackson against the Red Sticks.  Nolan was correct when he mentioned a soldier named Montgomery died from a shot to his skull during the battle.  I am curious to know why the author, Clint McCowan, chose to focus on how Montgomerey died.  I was not able to find out whether Montgomerey was unfortunate to be hit or he purposely put himself into the middle of the fire.  I did understand the connection between Montgomerey and Steve Pitts from the story though.

The park that Nolan and his wife Laney visit in the novel actually exits in Tallapoosa County in Alabama.  I am anxious to find out how McCowan researched his information about this battle from the War of 1812 and if the information about the other wars was true too.



Nicole Radde


Darin Riffle

Steven Roach


Group D:

Kelly Sander


Brittney Selden

Honestly,wow, i don't know what to say about this book.. Why does it jump from story to story or situation to situation? (is my question) what i get from this book is that Nolan seems to have a void in his life and obviously doesnt know how to fulfill it and so maybe these different stories, events, situations, dilemmas, etc tie into the confusion he has in his own life...At the end, Is Nolan really at peace with all the change? or does he just think he is...Is having uncertainty a thing to be so accepting of? (I really wonder).....maybe Nolan has laid to rest some of the demons of his life or has he?? Has Nolan really found himself?but he does stop himself from falling...

I picked this website because the title was interesting....


Bukombe Shindika

I just wondered how Clint McCown really tried to portray his main character of his book(Nolan).Especially when I read page 159 of the book when Nolan said "I had no identifiable career, and my option seemed to grow fewer by the hour ...I might wind up as one of Chet's disciples." Is this what the writer intended to show us, that almost everybody either determined or undetermined has to pass through these kind of trials and errors? Or did he intended to tell us that there are just these few peculiar people who do not really know what they are to do in their lives? However, if so what does he want to teach us from this?


Jon Spradling


Scott Van Eman


Philip Whitley


Ryan Zeman

After reading the book, the major aspect that upset me was the issue of Nolan and his wife and Steve Pitts.  I found that to be very disturbing.  I do not understand why Nolan did not do anything about his wife having a boyfriend or whatever he is called.  I understand that Steve Pitts is a very aggressive and intimidating man, but I would not care who it was if they were with my wife.  I also see that this is set in a very small town in the South where these actions might have been common, but that should not matter.  Marriage is a way more important choice than portrayed in the book, and I do not like how Nolan takes it so lightly.  It seems that Nolan Vann lives his life in constant fear of something, for example his job, money, and wife.  It seems to me that he never can come out on top he always has something in his mind that he is worried about.  I got frustrated because his life seemed to be a major struggle.  I found a review of the book on the web,, and it portrays Nolan as the town loser, but what surprised me is that he accepts that fact and lives with it.  I believe that a person would stir up some type of motivation to persevere and get out of that situation.  On the flip side I find it amusing that he uses a crude type of humor to look at his life and laugh.  At least he does not stay in a depressed state of mind.  I found this book intriguing because of how it portrayed small towns in the South and how they seem significantly different than those in the North, even though I believe some of them still exist in the North.


Matt McMahon

This book is full of crazy situations in this guys life. I must admit I forgot about this book and assignment so I did not have a chance to read the whole book but I did get to skim through a majority of it. Clint McCown has a unique way of expressing his feelings and telling about the life of Nolan Vann. He mixes many comical situations in it plus keeps the suspense as well. It half way through me for a loop right off the bat when he tells us his wife has a boyfriend. Then we get into the Jerry Rathburn thing. Evidentially this a big war town as it says they have seen all kinds of wars. They talk about this Rathburn guy being in Nam and getting into the drugs and messing his life up basically. He is in and out of jail. Then they find him dead. This adds some twist to the book.

I also like at the beginning where it talks about his dad being dead twice. It is just kind of comical for me to think about coming home from a war just to find out your parents have been notified about your death in action not once but twice.

The main character also ends up in the repo business which is really not a glamorous job. And judging by his description he does not meet your typical repo man visualization. He is scrawny and actually fits the description of a insurance agent whith which he did for 9 years. His life is pretty funny and I am looking forward to the forum.



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