It was just Monday morn that, as I crouched a-reading in the door-yard of Hazel's non-mobile home in the Shadeful Pines Motor Court, that I was rudely knocked from my literary reverie by a cruel, gibing and nasal shout:
"Nice new digs," this invading voice chuckled, "You were President of the United States, what, eight months ago? And now you live in a trailer park with a prostitute and play D&D with a bunch of geeks? Man," I looked up to see Editor Dave of this very Almanac(k) stepping out of his conveyance. He had approached silently in his electro-hybrid auto-kineticon, and so this shouted phrase was my first warning of his approach. "How the mighty have fallen. Did anyone ever track down that fucked up cyborg-Rehnquist you loosed upon the American hinterlands?"
I had just completed my reading of Colby Buzzell's "lyrical, heartbreaking, hilarious, and essential" work of colloquial genius, My War: Killing Time in Iraq, and even then still held it aloft in my velocitators mechanical manipulators. I shut of the book, and did call my greeting to the approaching employee. I asked after his spawn, and he after my plans for surface-world domination, and routine pleasantries aside, he began to broach a matter of the woefull economic state of our Almanac(k) when he noted the book I still held, not wanting to set it upon the dirty and lowly ground of the yard.
"Christfucker!" he said, grabbing the book rudely from my finely-wrought—though worse-for-the-wear, having missed her last several maintenance appointments with Devo, whom I cannot locate at this time—fore manipulator-claw. "I can't believe you bought this shit!"
"I DID NOT; IT WAS TENDERED FREE OF CHARGE, FOR THE PURPOSE OF MY REVIEW. DUE TO RECENT CHANGES OF ADDRESS, IT TOOK MUCH TIME TO REACH ME AT MY CURRENT—"
"Good! Shit like this needs a good shit-canning. Shit like this has killed more kids than pot, jerking off and ole Ex-Veep Cheney combined."
He pushed the book back into the awaiting cradle of my mechano-tentacles.
"THE 'SHIT CANNING'?—"
Editor Dave did frown and roll of the eyes, "Yeah, it means—"
"I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS, AND DO BELIEVE YOU DWELL IN MADNESS; COLBY THE BUZZELL IS A FUCK-YOU-REBEL AND LOYAL PATRIOT! HE IS THE KINDEST, GENTLEST, MURDERENIST MOST EXTREME SOLDIER-PACIFIST I HAVE EVER KNOWN, AND I SHALL WRITE FOR HIM A REVIEW WHICH DOES GLOW WITH THE FRISCALATING LIGHT OF THE THOUSAND STARS I SHALL AWARD IT!"
Editor Dave did stare upon me, agog. "You have got to be shitting me! This guy is a fucking singing dog! He's some fucking blogger who happened to be in the Sandy Shitbox, and some fucking junior agent waved a big knot of bills at him and he sold out before he even had any cred. Half the book is parroting the castrated crit every fucking wet-end liberal typing away online has already loaded on the government, and the other half is flag waving, crass, murder-masturbation jingoistic bullshit! Shit, did you read this? His whole justification for joining the military is that he needs the dough—he's the same age as me, making the same fucking dough!—and he wants to fucking kill people! Shit, he even gets married—like, the same fucking year I did—as a crass goddamned money grab!"
"BUT COLBY-JACK BUZZ-EL IS 'TELLING IT LIKE IT IS' IN IRAQ!" I did shout in the retort, "BY-PASSING THE CENSORSHIP OF YOUR BIG MEDIA JEWISH CONSPIRACY CONGLOMERATE!"
Erstwhile Editor Dave snatched the My War back from my mechanical pincer. He pulled aside the glossy three-tone dust jacket—upon which a vengeful and patriotic, yet counter-cultural and protesting, Buzzell aimed upon us, the very readers, his gun machine—and set his index finger upon the small gold letters at the tail of the spine.
"Oh, you're right, Mr. Prez; Putnam's Sons is so fuckin' indie I'm gonna shit fancy sneakers, Belle & Sebastian CDs and Threadless tees. Fuck, this is a goddamned 26-buck hardcover! This is the censored, big-government-massaged media! This," he held the book aloft, then slumped, "You dumb sonofabitch, this is The War, not the shit that Molly and the Ex-Prez are up to across the sea. It isn't a War against Terror or Arabs or Muslims, it's a War against progress and freedom and 50 years on the up-swing. It's a War against us." Editor Dave shook his head, full of the woe. "Christ, GS, you gonna be a sucker all your life? Read this fucking thing again, and try not to buy ever bridge they sell ya."
I flared with excitement, glad for the change in topic, "BRIDGES ARE FOR SALE? EXCELLENT! I HAVE LONG DESIRED TO BUILD A CERTAIN SORT OF AMPLIFIER OF THE HAUNTED STEEL CABLES OF THE MACKINAC BR—"
Editor Dave simply shook of the head again, dropped my treasured memoir of the sanctified Buzz-El into the dirt of our Non-Mobile Park's substrate, and walked away.
"Seriosuly, why not read that tinder again?" he shouted over his shoulder, "And see what you see with your optically perfect eyes" he punctuated that ultimate phrase by holding both of his tiny, weak, limp-wristed grabby-monkey-paws aloft, above the shoulder, and twinkling of his digits.
"THESE ARE THE SOUR GRAPES!" I did thunder at his back, "THOSE WHO CAN DO, EDITOR DAVE; THOSE WHO CANNOT, TEACH!"
"I don't teach anymore," he called as he got in his car, not even looking up to speak to me, "I'm a housewife now."
And he climbed into his shimering black hybrid enviro-pansymobile and puttered off.
I did tenderly lift Colby ben Buzz-El from the dust, wiping away the besmirches upon his dust-jacket as best I could with the angular steel of my mechano-tentacle. "Fool," I did think of Editor Dave, "Hater." And, seeking to burrow some surcease of sorrow, I did again turn to the primary page of Colby's tome, and did begin to reread.
But lo, had the scales fallen from my eyes! I do regret to admit of possible personal innaccuracy, but it did appear, upon review, that Editor Dave had certain valid points in his otherwise inchoate and unjustified contradiction of my early assesment.
Firstly, and I know not why it did not strike me earlier, but Brother Buzz-El has applied the English language in telling his tale in much the same manner as a chimpanzee applies a dented steel tire rim to the project of opening a can of beans: bludgeoningly. Colby's My War's dust-jacket does inform me that Robert Kurson, author of the Shadow Divers, finds the song of Buzz-El's prose to be "lyrical." I wonder what lyrics these may be, and on what lyre they are accompanied. After a manner, I am shamed to admit of my first-fondness to this book, as it is clear to all my great esteem for the beautious and graceful in all communication, even the limited and homely language of the Gruntchimps Americanum amongst whom I dwell. Still, even in so limited a milieu as gruntspeak, there can be some occasional music, a strange jangling euphony, such as we find with Her-Man Mellville (who does alone tell the truth about those "gentle whales"!), Chuckle O' Dickens, Jurassic the Fifth, Wll'm the Shayx-Pear and my most revered Markus Aurelius Twain. Their songs are simple folk melodies built around a single chord and its fifth, but they are a music pleasing to the tympanum. Cold-Bee's voice is not lyrical, nor is it unique; his is the speech of every lazy slackabones. Regrettable, his is near the spitting image of the voice of my earstwhile and much-mourned lab assistant, Rob.
So, putting aside my dear Buzz-El's blunt-force-trauma diction, shockingly shallow vocabulary and only vaguely nodding acquaintance with the accepted grammar of our AmerEnglish language, I was also distressed of how dizzyingly disorganized the document doth appear to be, both in terms of subject and chronology: We are at one moment in Iraq, then the next back at the basic training, then back in Iraq, or back viewing of Buzz-El's life prior to the enlistment, with no real warning or road map as to where we might head next. The book lacks all traditional signposts of cohesion, it has not even a Table of the Contents or Index. Not even the mad blood-tomes of Carthage were so lax! Further, the raw presentation of data has no apperent structure: the Cold-Bee waits 200 pages before he describes in any detail a central technical aspect in his life as a solider—that being just what, precisely, a "Stryker vehicle" is, he being an M240 machine gunner on just such a high-performace machine—although he frequently spares time to give detailed explanation of objects already common to the layperson (for example an iPod, possibly the most popular electro-prosthetic currently exported from the Middle Kingdom).
More disturbing than this narrative vertigo is the ethical dizzyness which characterizes the work. At one moment Buzzell is highly critical of this Restored-and-Squidless Yet Still United States government, while still taking their payckeck to kill and support the maiming and murder of persons of unclear guilt. He is an Anarchist, now propping up a tyrannical dictatorship, soon justifying the dictatorship's war crimes, while then criticizing the terms of its work contracts for geld-soldiers. He shoutingly implores none others to join This Man's Army, but in the final pages of the book indicates that he would Do It All Again, in the spirit of manly comradery. It, to be perfectly French, does border on psychosis, this flip-flopsmanship.
In the final analysis, and likely most damnening, Colby Buzzell and his book are entirely lacking in the one thing that could make all else excusable: A single titrated mili-liter of Self-Inspection.
So, then, in review: There were likely but 20 pages of interesting anecdotae buried among the 350 pages of excess verbiage in My War. These had much the seeming of only being very lightly copyedited versions of that which he had already given away for free upon his website, and still lacked any meaningful reflection.
On the back of the glossy, expensive dust jacket, Kurt Vonnegut does rave "My War by Colby Buzzell is nothing less than the soul of an extremely interesting human being at war on our behalf in Iraq."
All else aside, this assessment is accurate and perfectly in line with my own measure of the work, provided in place of the monkey word interesting we exchange Incoherent—and I wish not to be misunderstood: It is not simply my dear Buzz-El's language, Dear Readers, which is critically muddled, but his very animating spirit. Upon final reflection and review, it is men like him that inspire in me a dark and murky foreboding as to the true Nature of Man.
After coming through to all of these conclusions and notions, I did return to the order of the day and wonder: what brought the Editor Dave so quickly to my domicile, and what sent him equally as quickly away?
I Remain Scathingly,
Your Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson