Day 19  October 31, 2002


1. Names. Papers back. Many were quite fine, some still can benefit from some fine-tuning, which is of course one reason for doing them in stages. Finish WM next time, then into Honky. We need to view Do the Right Thing by Tues., 11/12—which nights work best for that? That’s also the weekend of the play, I realize.


2. Comments on Juhnke’s time with us and/or Forum lecture and discussion? I was struck by his comment that “what-if” thinking is not just sloppy post-historical thinking, it’s part of what we constantly do in history as well, what leaders do as they weigh alternatives. GB’s warnings that unless we push for regime change in Iraq we may find ourselves coping with a mushroom cloud is a what-if statement. So are the predictions that invading Iraq will destabilize the whole Middle East and create more terrorists. . . .


3. Back into War Memorials. I want today to be sure that people get involved in discussion; I know how easy it is, in a class this size, to sit back and let others talk, but let’s resist that impulse today. I thought the responses that came in were extremely interesting, and want to give you a chance to talk about some of those things.


Let’s do this: take five minutes in groups of three or four, make sure each group has at least one person who wrote a response for today. Ask those people to talk about what they wrote and what they find most interesting, and find at least one particular reference in the book related to that. Then we’ll get back together, let each group report, and go from there.


Key moments/events:

Saving Louis 73 ff.

Steve Pitts 74 ff., 79

Mother, 81 ff.

Grandma Vann 84 ff.

Nolan’s coldness 85 ff

Col Hereford 87 ff, and ditch panic


At the carnival:

Donna and Darwin his nephew

Laney, Steve giving her the bear 97

throwing the candy 99, and Alma

The funhouse 102 ff

Brother Willis107 ff. 110 on Nolan

Memorials and wasted lives 113


Rev. Sinclair 115 ff. “war as an example of human error on its grandest scale.”

117: “sometimes it takes a good tangle of lies to keep a relationship going”

with father, 121: “I’d won my dishonorable discharge from his army.”

at Horseshoe Bend he successfully annihilated a thousand-year-old tribal culture.” 122

Tump shot by arrow, 124 ff.

John Wood, Tump’s ancestor, executed for not keeping his camp site clean enough.


Buried Treasure: off with Dell and his metal detector to find stuff.

Back for Alma’s washer and dryer, 140 ff.

She has money, she’s just changed her priorities. And there she is with her t-shirt off, 143

She kisses him, and she has plans, she offers him a job.


Sniper Suspect's Son, Ex-Wife Back Death Penalty

Wed Oct 30, 6:45 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first wife of John Allen Muhammad, one of two suspects in the deaths of 10 people in the Washington sniper spree, said on Tuesday he should be put to death if found guilty.

"If he sat in a car and killed innocent people, if they find him guilty for that, then yes," Carol Williams said on CNN's "Larry King Live" when asked if she would support the death penalty for Muhammad if he was convicted.

Muhammad's son Lindbergh Williams, 20, also backed the death penalty.

"Even though he is my father, in my eyes, you reap what you sow. If you were man to enough to do it, you are man enough to pay the consequences," he said, shadowed from the camera to hide his face.

Muhammad, 41, and his 17-year-old traveling companion John Lee Malvo face six murder charges apiece in Maryland. Muhammad faces additional murder charges in neighboring Virginia as well as federal charges.

The pair were arrested last week in connection with the sniper attacks which began on Oct. 2 and terrified the Washington area for three weeks.

Carol Williams, who married Muhammad in 1981 and separated from him in 1985, said he had introduced Malvo as his son last summer, and that Malvo called Muhammad "father."

She said she received a telephone death threat on Oct. 23, the day before Muhammad's arrest in Frederick, Maryland. While she did not recognize the voice, Williams said she worried Muhammad had planned to kill her.

"Right now I'm not sleeping. I can't sleep because I feel that if it's actually him and they hadn't caught him, I would have been in the number. I would have been one of the ones that he'd have killed," she said.

Lindbergh Williams told CNN it was likely that Malvo was under Muhammad's control.

"He's a very good manipulator. He can talk very well. If you let him inside of your head, he will take control over your head," Williams said.

He said he believed his father's service in the military during the Gulf War (news - web sites), and two divorces which stripped him of custody of his children, had played a part in disturbing his mental balance.

"I think over the years of so much stuff, he just snapped," the son said. "The loss of his children, the military, that's stressful enough on its own, being in the war. ... He just snapped."

But at least one family member maintained Muhammad's innocence in the case. His nephew, Edward Williams Jr., 19, said he looked up to Muhammad, who inspired him to go into the military.

"I don't think he went crazy, and I don't really think he did it," the nephew said. "That's how much I look up to my uncle. I don't think that he would do that kind of stuff to anybody, to anyone."



Student Responses


 While reading War Memorials, I could not help but reflect on how many ways Nolan is similar to Celie.  Both seem to be in this world without a whole lot of love.  Everything seems to be wrong in each of their lives.  Even as a man, Nolan is unable to fulfill the criteria to be successful.  Namely, he was never enlisted in the army, he cannot find a decent job, and cannot seem to bring himself to care for many of the things that define men in his small hometown.  As a result, Nolan is known only through his connection with his father.  Even the reverend points out how God works through everyone—even the low-down repo man, who just so happens to be no other than Nolan himself. Through all of this, Nolan learns not to care for much of anything or anyone, looking at the lives of others in order to make himself feel like things aren’t quite so bad after all.  This reminds me of how Celie would turn herself into a “tree” just to survive.  In his own way, Nolan is also taking on this part.  He must learn to love himself, to come to peace with who he is.  Finally, he must learn to be loved and to love others once again.  Even Nolan’s marriage to his high school sweetheart, while not abusive, is distant and cold.  He speaks of his wife’s lover in a despondent and matter-of-fact type of way.  This is how things are.  This is how we keep peace.  I don’t dare to expect anything more.  Why would I?

-Amy Simon

            I also find it ironic that while we spoke in class about how war teaches men to live a lifestyle that is not acceptable at home, all of the men in Lincoln seem to think that enlistment in service is the best thing that a boy could ever dream of happening.  At the surface, it seems that only Nolan realizes that war is not all that the men make it out to be.  The comment is made that “friendly fire” in the army is viewed as voluntary manslaughter in the ‘real world’ (McCown 135).  Yet, something in me wonders if Nolan’s father also shares in this belief to some extent.  While he would never be willing to admit it, I believe that the bombing event had a tremendous impact on Jimmy.  Maybe the visitation to the war memorials is a humbling experience in which he recounts the horrors of war, and not the glory that is told in so many stories of American history.  But, then again, I have been wrong before, and it would not surprise me if I were just partaking in some wishful thinking!

            Following is a book review that I found on War Memorials:  It was quite interesting to read Heather’s take on this story, which in many ways is similar to my own responses.

 Thanks, Amy Simon

I will be honest, I like the book.  However I am having some real issues with Nolan.  I do not dislike him, I just wish that I could figure out why he seems to be made of stone.  In several places he seems like he has no feeling at all.  I would not say that he is heartless...just unfeeling.  I noticed this a lot when he talks about his wife and people that he has lost.

On page 74, Nolan talks about how he doesn't understand why his wife chose Steve as her boyfriend. Its not that he is angry about her actions, he just wonders why she is with Steve and not someone else.  Nolan does not dislike Steve either.  He explains that at one time he really like Steve and tht he was a great person to have on their ball team.  He just seems to get hung up on Laney's reasons for picking Steve.  He even assumes that the only reason she picked Steve was because he was not Nolan.  I agree with that, but I do not agree that it was for the same reasons that Nolan may assume.  I interpret Laney's actions as a way to get Nolan's attention.  Who better to use as her pawn then the one person who is the total opposite of Nolan? She could have chosen someone more discreet, but she wanted someone who would be very obvious.  I also think that the reason behind her actions was that she spent a lot her marriage in the shadows of Nolan and his everday life.   It seems like his job and everything he had going in his personal life took precedence.  Do not mistake me...I am not passing all the blame on to Nolan.  Laney is just as much to blame for the distance.She could have chosen another method to gain Nolan's attention.  I would recommend counseling or something marriage minded.  I also think that her being deceptive about her affair is what encouraged Nolan to start lying to her.  They both chose to continue living in silence.  I do think that they wanted to know if the other person cared for them or not.  She took a bear from Steve in full view of Nolan and he took a job for Alma.  I think they were both trying to spur some kind of jealousy or emotion from each other.  I wish that the author had given more information into what started the problems in their marriage.

The other issue I found disturbing was how Nolan handled and accepted the loss of people in his life.  The first person he talks about being gone(besides his wife) is his grandmother.  He talks about how in the past he would visit her in the hospital.  Now he sees her body laying in the bed and only sees a breathing shell of someone who is no longer his grandmother.  He treats his little brothers death in the same manor.   He calls his brother's death a tragic accident no ever talks about.  He even talks about his loss of religion as just another thing that he has lossed.  He does not know how he lost his religion nor does he act like he noticed the loss.  Up to this point I understand how he could seperate himself from the pain, but then he discusses his mother's death.  He is completely indifferent even though he unconciously helped her kill herself.  He calls her death "just another disappointment" and says that he got over it.  After all none of his losses were even that real o him.  This raises the questions does he have this attitude about his wife, his father, his job, his life?  How did he develop this attitude? I wish I could find out more background information about Nolan so that I could understand him better.


This website is about some of the causes of infidelity. I found it fitting because there is no clear reason for Laney's affair and I thought that this site might give me some insight. That way as I continue to read the story I might understand things a little better.


Amy Parks


I enjoyed this book.  I think it was trying to figure out the inner workings of Nolan's mind that kept my attention.  He seemed to be a total dead beat, but he did some things that in a sense brought him out.  At the end of the book Laney describes him as total boring and dull, making him aweful to live with.  This is after he has rescued people from snake bites, helped out with the building of a zoo, thrown darts at Buddy and countless other things.  Nolan did not seem boring to me.  In fact he had some depth to his mind and what he thought about.  He had to be creative and adventuresome in a way to hope on board with the zoo project.  I think his problem lies in the fact that he doesn't vocalize very much.  Laney knew him, but didn't really know him.  There lack of conversation and words started the way between them.  I thought all along that it would be a good twist to the story if the baby turned out to be his.  It didn't end that way, but I was hoping it would.

The book contained so many characters with so many different responses to post war involvement. The majority of voices in the book stated that training for war was a good thing and whipped a boy into shape.  We didn't actually get to hear a voice from Jerry, but from the stories about him it would see that war did more damage that good for him.  Another very interesting point in the book was when Tump got shot with the arrow and had Nolan look up his family name in the war history book.  His ancestor actually got shot for desertion.  Most people want to see war as a brave thing to participate in, and perhaps that aids in selective memory.  They don't remember the instances that weren't so glorious and brave.  The glories moments are the ones remembered in the text books and on memorials.  A great emphasis was put on war memorials in this book- helping to remember the dead and the brave.  There is a great facination with war memorials.  I found a web site that contains links to war memorials from a large number of wars  These memorials are obviously a way that some veterans deal with the things they have been through- this is seen in the character of Nolan's father.

Rebecca Yoder

Okay at first I really felt sorry for the guy and thought that he just had a really hard time expressing his feelings to people, but then I got to the part about him having no feelings of emotion when his baby brother had died.  Right then was when I stopped have feelings of sympathy towards him, and I started to dislike him a little.  He said in the book that he just didn't much care, he understood what happened but he had no upsetting feelings.  What could have provoked him to feel this away about his own sibbling, sure he never had a relationship with the baby but still I would personally be devastated.  Another part I did not care much for was when he was describing the paintings in the hospital and there were two different pictures of Jesus and he thought that was kind of funny and wondered why painters would do that, and it was hard enough believing in Jesus let alone seeing him look different in both pictures.  He just seems to start to come off as some cold hearted guy.  But then later in the book when he was talking about his mother dieing.  But I don't remember him ever saying if she committed suicide or was attempting to kill herselve my buring to death.  But is seems like then was when he started going down hill.  He had gotten the medicne not knowing his mother was allergic to it, he was only doing what she had asked him to do.  I guess I did start to have sympathy for him again when I read that part.  Many of his problems might have been caused because of the result in that accident.  Overall I think this poor guy really has some emotional and communication problems.  I do strongly believe that he is still in love with his wife, but for some reason he has not be able to talk to her for a long time, it seems he shuts himself out of people he cares about lives.  Like he doesn't know how to communicate with them or let them know his true feelings.  I don't really understand why that is, the only thing I can think of is his mother's death could have hurt him a lot more than he is letting on.  His father not being proud of him as his son might be doing some mental strain to him.  And now his wife is messing around on him and is pregnant with someone else's baby.  It's almost like he doens't have the back bone to stick up for himself.  Another thing that I couldn't believe was when he was talking about Laney and Brad, he said they didn't care where they were seen they wouldn't try to hide and sneak around.  So why won't she just leave him, if she doesn't care to keep it a secret why doesn't she leave Nolan and just be with Brad.  She has nothing to lose, unless the baby really is Nolan's and she feels she couldn't do that to the baby.  But the book hasn't said yet anything about that whole situaiton.  And if the baby is Brad's she should have more of a reason to leave Nolan anyway, he doesn't seem to care about the baby and i really don't think he would make a good father. 

With the whole religion thing, I think maybe it got shoved down his throat a little to much throughout his life.  Everyone he knows or has an encounter with starts preaching to him.  I also thought the whole cottonmouth chapter was a little bizarre.  Who would be crazy enough to actually want to do something like that knowing they could get bit at any moment.  It seems like everyone in that town is preaching about something that happened to someone, or is talking about other people's business.

I think that his father is trying to have some sort of a relationship with him, he is always asking him to go to horseshoe bend, some battle ground.  But he always ignores him or makes an excuse that he has something to do.  I don't really understand why he hates his father unless he is jealous that he never did the things his father did and upset that he hasn't lived up to his father's expectations.  But his father seems to make a point to talk to him. I wasn't really sure what kind of website to look up cause I didn't know what situation or example I could find pertaing to the book on the web.  But I had never heard of horseshoe bend and I found a website to the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.  It talks about the history behind the making of Horseshoe Bend a battle ground.  The website is

 Melissa VanAusdal

The website above has a letter from Jackson & a map of the area visited by Nolan & his wife at the end of the book. Also several mentions of Major Montgomery, who was mentioned in the book.



I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book once I got into it. I know it may not be in my section to respond to today, but since I've finished it, I would like to comment on the book as a whole. The ending of the book was good, but I was kind of hoping for a little more resolution. I was hoping that Nolan would somehow get his better job, and completely reconcile with his father and with Laney. There only seems to be a half resolution at the end. He's not completely reconciled with his father or Laney, but it is a start. Same with his job, it's not the greatest, but it's a start. So it seems like there's more to this story still. Maybe the message we are supposed to get from this is that life goes on, and will go on no matter what happens. Sometimes stuff works out, and sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes things aren't certain at all but you have to wait and take the time to work things out. I think the reason this book was titled "War Memorials" was because throughout the book Nolan kept comparing his life to past wars and events in wars. Through the stories of the war veterans in his town, through his visits to the memorials, through his knowledge of history, he compares things to his life and tries to make sense of all the changes and hardships he is having to get through. I think this makes a lot of good points about war. It makes us think differently about our lives. But it ends lives also. It is a horrible experience for some, but for others it is glorious. No matter if you were involved directly in the war, or indirectly, or can only hear about it from history books and little old men who were veterans, it somehow effects your life. They called the beginning of the Revolutionary War "The Shot Heard Round the World" and I think this is true of all wars, for what war is there that has not had some lasting effect or imprint in the history of a country and the world? Even the Civil War fought in the US long ago left marks in the rest of the world. If you are a human being then you will be effected, even in the smallest way. War is a powerful thing...obviously. And obviously such a power, the power over the lives of so many soldiers should not be taken lightly. And I think I would like to remind people of that nowadays as we face the possibility of war with Iraq. How easy is it to send men overseas when you know that so many will not return? I would not want to be the one to make that decision, to condemn men to a short, uncertain future, possibly ending in death. This book made me think differently about war, about positive and negative aspects. That's it from me for my response. The End. :-)


*~*~Erin Wahl


            I have really enjoyed reading this book, War Memorials.  It is very easy to read because it’s written well and it’s a story.  I guess when I think about what I’ve read so far, up to the chapter on Buried Treasure, I think of how sad Nolan and Laney’s relationship is. 

            I can’t even imagine what it’s like to know that your wife is having an affair with a guy that you can’t stand and that she is pregnant most likely with his baby.  They seem to have lots of marital problems.  As a social worker in training, there are a lot of things that I would like to suggest to Nolan to help him out with their relationship.  I think it’s sad when he talks about how he’s glad that Laney’s not all religious now because sometimes lies are what holds a relationship together.  I think that’s quite sad.  I’ve always believed that God is the bond that holds two people together in a healthy and loving relationship.  They rarely even communicate to each other.  I’m guessing that the most they’d ever talked to each other in the past few months was when they were at the carnival with her sister and their nephew.  I’m interested in reading further into the book to see what happens with their relationship.  She already knows that his dad fired him from his insurance job.  I’m just waiting for all of the other secrets he’s kept from her to start revealing themselves.  I want to know what she’s going to say when she finds out that he knows all about Steve Pitts.  It doesn’t seem to me that she’s been trying too hard to hide this affair.  After growing up in this town, she has to know that news travels fast and that somebody would see her and Steve eventually.  I also thought that part about the freak guy eating the head of the snake was disgusting. 

            The website I chose to go along with this reading is a place that offers marital counseling.  I wasn’t sure what could be connected to the reading so I thought I’d find them a couselor.  

This address shows the different programs that this counseling place offers to couples.

Sarah Parker



First let me address that I will be unable to attend class this Thursday due to a conflict that I am unable to get out of I will catch you later to see what I missed

Second, now on to War Memorials, this book really examines war from a different frame of mind than what we have already looked at in class. First, we looked at the book that Junke publish called the missing peace, and viewed alternative peace themes to America History. Then we looked at the movie Platoon. In this movie the art of War is really and shows the reality of death. It shows how real men, good boys, became animals in the jungle killing other humans. In War Memorials we get a mixture of what war is. It is almost like the different people that the author writes about are a contribution to another memory that we have forgotten. (At least it seems that way thus far). Take a look the contrast between the authors father and Jerry Rathburn. Both of these men have had time in a war, both veterans. War has effected them in completely different ways. The authors father used the war to help his success and Jerry Rathburn was destroyed by what Vietnam did to him. I ! like what I have read and agree that the real war memorials are not the Vietnam Wall, or the different ones on capital hill, but rather the people that were effect by them.

David McMillen


Overall, i think War Memorials was a pretty good book. It had to have been since it kept my attention pretty much through the whole book. I thought there were alot of interesting thoughts in this book, that made me think. And along with all these thoughts, there was humor also, which makes the book entertaining and easy to read.

One thought that McCown raises is "Why don't we honor all the casualities of small towns who never leave to fight wars?" I like this statement. First of all, considering i'm a Mennonite, it's nice to hear a statement like this, because most of the time Mennonites get grief for not going to fight. And i felt bad for Nolan because he never went to fight, and he was always compared to his father, who was a war hero. Just because Nolan didn't fight in any wars doesn't make him any less important. I thought he tried hard to keep his life together. When he lost his job, he didn't sit around in his house and pout, it seemed like he was out all the time looking for new jobs. So just because he didn't fight in a war, doesn't mean his life isn't worthwhile.

Although i think he did strive to keep his life together, i thought he could have fought harder for Laney. Although another thought in the book is "Sometimes it takes a good tangle of lies to keep a relationship going." Now even though I don't completely believe this, i guess it worked all right for Nolan. At first though things were rocky between him and Laney, but things got better in the end. And i guess it was a good thing that he didn't fight for Laney because Steve Pitts wanted that challenge from Nolan, and since he didn't give any challenge, Steve lost interest. So even though at first i thought Nolan should fight harder for his wife, it all worked out for the better in the end.

-Kristin Stutzman


My first response to the reading is that I've enjoyed the dry humor used in this book. There were several times I found myself actually laughing out loud as I was reading. One example is when Nolan is forced to bury the dead lizard in the yard while it is raining. As he stands there with his
wife, he feels like he should say something, so he blurts out, "He was a good lizard", and then starts laughing. I mean, he's already in deep crap with his wife because she thinks he killed the lizard, and then to start laughing about the situation is hilarious. Another time was when Nolan
takes his nephew through the freak show, and as they are getting ready to exit, his nephew runs full steem ahead into the Plexiglass barrier and knocks himself down. I could just picture these events in my mind and I found them very amusing.

Another response that I have is the way Brother Willis singles Nolan out at the fair. I couldn't believe that a pastor would actually do such a thing. He says things like "Even the least among us is blessed, just look at this man (Nolan)" and "If that man can do good works, so can we
all!" Nolan is just an ordinary guy trying to figure out the mess that has been his life, he isn't looking for any attention, he tries to be nice and polite to people, and he hates his job as a repo man, and everyone acts like he enjoys taking people's possessions. He already feels bad enough
about his life, and then the pastor acts like Nolan gives everyone hope since he is the biggest low-life in the world.

On one hand, I sort of feel bad for Nolan, but on the other hand, I think his whole situation is kind of funny. Does the guy ever live one normal day in his life? He's just trying to go about his business and he always seems to come across the most extreme situations. One day he is just walking around town trying to find a spare job to make some money, and all of the sudden, he's trying to save people from snakes. Or also when he is meeting his father and Morgan and Tump to take a road trip with them, and then he walks into the store and Tump has been shot in the side by an arrow. I mean, can't the guy ever catch a break?

The address of the Web site I found that relates to this reading is:

This site is the official site of Horseshoe Bend National Military Park. I found it interesting because this is where Nolan and his father and his father's friends are planning on going to visit. The site tells the story of the battle that happened there as well as presenting maps of the actual

-Brian Steiner


i love this book.  can that be my whole response?  i suppose that wouldn't get me a very good grade, so i'll extrapolate.  i enjoy this book.  it makes me laugh outloud, and any book that can do that is definetely worth reading. 

But at the same time, there's something more to the story than just a funny story about a guy's mid-life crisis.  Maybe i enjoy the story because the main character's experience is so different from my own.  For one, i'm a female and didn't have to face the pressure of joining the army.  But the main difference is the type of community i was raised in.  My parents are Mennonite.  My grandparents were Amish.  My family has been pacifist for as long as pacifists have existed.  I almost feel guilty enjoying a story that is focused on the benefits of the opposite.  Being raised in a mennonite/anabaptist area of iowa, I have experienced little of what the main character (whose name i can't remember at the moment for the life of me) has.  Instead of remembering war heros, we have museums dedicated to peace heros and books like the martyr's mirror. 

At one point in the book, the two worlds -- those struggling for peace, and those willing to fight -- seem to converge a bit.  McCowen writes a bit about death and the necessity of memorials:  "Memorials are for people who shouldn't have died" and "Wasted lives -- that got pretty close to it, all right." (113) Though i don't know how much i agree with the second statement, the first seems to ring true.  why does my town immortalize menno simons, conrad grebelwhy is my brother named after a martyr named dirk?  Why do we have a wall in washington d.c. covered in names of dead soldiers?  Anytime someone dies for a seemingly no reason, the community remembers.  this holds true for both war-pushing communities such as the one in McCown's book and the Mennonite town of Kalona

Though i woudlnt' say that these lives were wasted, the question of why they had to die pervades my mind, especially those that died in war, for country.  i guess as a pacifist, i believe that they didn't have to die.  but that doesn't resolve anything in my mind, because they did die and to say they didn't have to makes the soldiers look, well, stupid.  I suppose most would say that they were fighting for country.  McCown almost brushes this aside saying, "Patriotism had to figure in somewhere."  I'm sure religion played a part as well -- i found the portion of the book about Jesus being a war hawk quite amusing, probably because it was so contrasting to my own upbringing.  when I see the two pictures of Jesus on the wall -- the one with him surrounded by children and contrast it with the one of a pissed-off Jesus, I was taught that the one with the kids, exemplifying peace was Jesus' true nature.  I think their (the grandma and others) rationale is slightly off, but it's always interesting to hear the other side's point of view. 

In sum, i don't know how to end this.  I look forward to finishing the book (looking forward to homework.....bizzaro).  But i am more looking forward to sleeping, which is what i can do as soon as i find a website to add to this email.  the end.


-Erin Miller

At first glance (as I read through the first third) I began to characterize Nolan in my mind as being a bit of a loser.  His inner monologue against himself on page 48 was most convincing.  However, as I began to read into the second third of the book, I realized how complex Nolan's story may be.


Nolan has received what I would term "father wounds", the deep piercing injury that occurs when a son seeks to know he is a man from his father and is rejected.  The military legacy and mindset are too much for Nolan, and Nolan's father will never validate him so long as he is a reject according to the veteran subculture.  I think the inner question of, "Am I a man? Do I have what it takes?" runs perhaps deeper than the themes of war memorial and violence.  The war memorials in this book are the people:  the colonel at the nursing home, Steve Pitts and his ditch fever, Nolan's father and friends.  These characters are memorials to the effects of war, especially if we take the author's definition on page 113: "Memorials are for people who shouldn't have died....[w]asted lives".  Nolan's father perhaps never died literally, but because of the war and the subsequent suicide of his wife, much of his humanity seems dead and wasted already.  Some, like Tump, need to visit old battlefields and talk about the good old days, whereas others like Nolan's father hide it inside, but both deal with their wounds and memories in their own way.


I think that because of Nolan's bad relationship with his father, he has a tough time understanding his Heavenly Father.  On page 86 he refers to Jesus as "...the hotshot pitcher with the best record in the league..." while he is just "...some skinny nearsighted batter who couldn't knock the ball out of the infield, afraid to step up to the plate".  Like most lies, this idea is half true in that we all fall so short of the glory of God.  However, the idea of grace and a personal relationship with God the Father through the redemptive work of the Son seems foreign to Nolan.  He doesn't seem to think God will accept him unless he is good enough and Nolan clearly finds himself to be inadequate.  Similarly, I think Nolan doesn't feel acceptance from his earthly father unless he is good enough, being especially estranged because of his lack of military experience.


Nolan's inability to be reconciled to his wife or to face the truth in open communication I believe also stems from his "father wound".  The incident involving the belated Randall shows that Nolan is very evasive in dealing head on with problems in their relationship.  Being emasculated by his father, Nolan is incapable of feeling secure with his wife, even to the extreme point of viewing her affair as justifiable because of his lack of desirability.  His growing infatuation with Alma I believe is a cry for help looking for someone to validate him, though he'll never find validation there.


(As a side note, I believe Nolan rushing Louis to the hospital is an example of Nolan beginning to find his confidence and manhood in spite of the military subculture [namely Steve Pitts in this case] by being protective without being violent.)


Although there are themes of the dysfunction of war and how it overrides a communities' common sense, I believe the heart of this book deals with the "father wound" of Nolan and his being rejected by and rejection of the veteran subculture in his town.  This is a book of Nolan's struggle with that inner wound.  The book is thoughtful, at times well-written, and a decent read.


Though I continue to believe war is a last resort option for stopping evil, I do not claim it is psychologically or emotionally beneficial to those who fight.  Quite to the contrary, I agree with the author insomuch as war can be detrimental to the lives of the veterans and their families.  Obviously, last resorts are seldom completely beneficial, otherwise they wouldn't be the last resort they'd be the first resort.



  Sam Shepard




The following is a book review detailing some of the accounts of Andrew Jackson and his Indian Wars.  The premise is interesting, might make a good




While the storyline mixed in between funny and really sad in that even as a novel, I am sure this was life for many people in the southern states. I thought there were some great quotes in there that summed up whether we should laugh at the humor, or look back and realize that it is kind of sad.


"Donna was still in crisis, and needed a stabilizing presense, two phrases she must have picked up from television because that sure as hell wasn't how Laney talked. I felt a little insulted by the phoniness of it. Were we so far apart we couldn't use normal language?"


While it is humorous, it still is sad, and I guess coming from a solid 2 family home, maybe it is a little more shocking, but to hear a man say that about his wife is still very surprising.


However, that quote pales in comparision.....


"That boy's about to fidn out what trouble is, he's got the sword of Diogenes hanging over his head."


"Damocles" I corrected, "Diogenes was the guy with the lantern."


Nolan and Dell go on a little longer talking about Diogenes' traits as Dell sums up the conversation well:


"Damocles, Diogenes, same differnce, they're both shit-out-of-luck. And Buddy's prospects ain't much brighter."



Here they are two men talking about mythological figure's and summing it up with, "well they're both SOL" While I think it was an entertaining read, and I'm glad Nolan "found Jesus", I think there were too many over-the-top instances for such a small southern town.


Garrett Skare


I am really not sure how to respond to this book.  This does not seem to be a book that is issue-oriented.  The whole part dealing with the snakebite was a little out in left field.  I did not see the relevancy in this subject to anything.  In fact, I think most of the book is like that.  The only major issue I have been able to gather from this book so far is that Nolan's life is basically a failure.  He is succeeding in very little, if at all, and he doesn't seem to care.  I mean, cares in the sense that he realizes it and wishes it could be different, but he doesn't seem to care enough to do anything about it.  He seems to have no drive or self-discipline whatsoever to set goals for his life and work hard to accomplish those goals.  Maybe this has come from living in his father's shadow.  Nonetheless, I would think that would make him all the more determined to do something with his life to get out of his shadow.  Farther on in the book it seems like he begins to find a little interest in his life with Alma, but that part was confusing to me and I know I didn't pick up on everything I was supposed to. Overall, I am really enjoying this book but I just can't find major issues in the book to respond to.



Darin Smith



I had a hard time completing this readings but I did enjoy reading what I got to read after all. There are several things that i have to say about this

novel especially coming from a war torn country. War can have several meaning for different people. In this case the war memorials to me represented the life of Nolan.It seems that every direction that he turned the doors were shut at him.He had a hard time keep relationships with his family especially his father, who even after Nolan tries to reconcile is arrogant and reluctant to normalize, relations.His relationship with his wife and they way the reconciled was some how strange especially because they still had communication problems, but nevertheless,Nolan seems to compromise with them being a family even after she had a baby and an affair with Steve.

The life of the dog Jerry in my view is a reflection of all that Nolan was experiencing.Even though he seems to need care and attention, Laney just want to ignore his needs just as she has ignored Nolan.The Jesus cursing and all that was something that i found appalling and I will not dwell on this too much but I think that when an author uses the name of a spiritual leader in their writings, they need to keep in mind respect for the audience, and this can be used to discredit his work even when it's unintended.This part of the book I did not enjoy but I will not use it to discredit McCown account of the complexity of relationships and how different people make it through life.

This book as i had said earlier, deals with real life events and how society is rather complex and the values that are considered to be important in a given community. Nolan and his father are from the same family but yet society accords them different status, why? Because, one experienced war and the other was nothing was continuously struggling to make ends meet.Since I come from a war torn country, I wonder what values and principles will keep the community together, will war be all that they have to celebrate and commomenrate?Or will they face the reality from Nolan that life is a clever forgery of our past, present and future.This brings me to a quote that i found rather interesting. "The fortune-teller wouldn't comment on my future.Both my palms, she said, were clever forgeries" ( McCown,p.189). I wonder if my life too is a clever forgery. The web site I chose is about life after the Vietnam war, I chose it because, it is the reality of what faces people, they think of rebuilding more than they think of war memorials, survival is all that society longs for.It wants to achieve and fight poverty after war, memorials remain, but only enacted in the inner

being of those who fought the war (s).


-Mary Akuc



War Memorials is a book with a very interesting structure. It talks about modern times but at the same time it talks about many things that happened a long time ago, particularly wars.

The second part of the book, I would say, is peacefull, althopugh there are some talks about war. First it talks about how Louis got snakebit. I think it is a bit ironic that Nalon had to ask Steve, his wife's lover, to tale louise to the hospital. But he had no choice. At the hospital it was interesting how he saw his grandmother and how he realized that life is going to pass very quickly. People are dying every day and there is no way to stop it. At the same time there are some poeple who are still alive, but yet they are dead. An example could be Steve. He is not open to anyone, he is locked in himself. He is dead for the people wround him.

Later in the book Nalon takes his nephew to the rides. He begind talking to his wife again. Everything seems to be normal, until he sees his father. Nalon really wants to have a better relationship with his father. He is willing to go to the battle field for that. I just thought it was very interesting how Nalon and his father reffered to each oither: "men who wanted to be my father", "son that I have heard so much about". It didn't even sound like they were reltives. It sounded like they were strangers.

Also, it is easy to notice that people do not respect Nalon because of his job. He takes things away from them.  They don't like it. A lot of them get mad at him. Not many people understand that he has to do it, that it is his job. He meets Alma and he really likes here. Iv thought that was interesting.

Another interesting thing was when he was talking about his church and how everything was always the same, and things were going really well untill the pastor decided to talk about politics. It shows that it is impossible to put together politics and religion. There will be to many things people disagere on. Also, when he described his mother's death, it made me wonder, why she killed herself. Did she have some problems with her family? Was there something else. The following links are for the websites that talk about women's suicide statistics.



Giving a response to this book is a little different than the other books because there's not a definite issue to discuss or debate.  I did notice that Nolan has a different way of looking at things that happen in his life.  Everything that happens in his everyday life takes him back to some strange occurence.  What I found interesting is how he talks about when his brother died and how he felt guilty for not crying since that is what Jesus would have done.  I think early on he is not described as that good of a guy, but I feel he went out of his way to make sure Louise made it to the hospital and was stable.  The other thing that interested me is when he is talking to Colonel Hereford and he finds a common ground when they are talking about ditch panic.  It makes him think how frantic he was when he was trying to climb up the mud walls and how scared he felt.  Nolan does not seem to always make the best choices, but it seems to me that he wants to he just doesn't always know how to go about it.


-Aaron Weichart


     This book is very weird.  I started off not liking it and struggling to get through the first third, but I was actually wanting to read more after this third.  I think this is just because at first I was expecting the book to be about war or at least someone who was in the war.  Once I got past the fact that it isn't now I think I can enjoy it more.

     I thought it was very interesting on how pathetic Nolan is perceived to be.  Not only did he lose his job and has to be the repo man and his wife is having an affair...but now we find out that his mother committed suicide by setting herself on fire, his brother died the day he was born, and his grandmother is so sick she doesn't even recognize him and can't get out of bed.  It just seems like nothing can get better for Nolan.

      I thought the heroic act of Nolan saving Louis’s life was interesting.  I don’t understand why the three of them were trying to catch the snakes even if they would get $25 for each one and it was for a religious cause, they are poisonous.  I would not even get in the water were I knew that cottonmouth snake were let alone try to catch them.  They do not run from humans they run to them.  Other web sites told stories about how cottonmouth snake wait in trees along the river and drop into boats and see how many people they can get to jump out of the boat.  It is fun for them.  Their venom is very deadly.  It was weird that the book never really tells you if Louis is alright.  It was ironic how at the carnival the pastor picked Nolan out of the crowd and said how everyone can do some good if you can be a repo man and still save someone’s life. 

     It amazes me how nonchalant Nolan is about his “marriage” to Laney.  He doesn’t really seem to care that she is having an affair even when it happens right in front of him.  He still tries to please her by trying to get his job back in hopes that Laney will come running back to him.  He talks to his father, goes to church, and then agrees to go to Horseshoe Bend all of these things he doesn’t want to do but at Laney’s command he does all three. I don’t know if Nolan really still loves Laney or if he is just trying to make other people think that he is a failure. 

Stephanie Rush