Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Casualty of Voice?

This eponymous story would most surely be a casualty of voice if we were to take its narrator as authentic Texan (if for no other reason than, as previously stated, its vocabulary: "arse" "whilst" "expiry" etc). So, better to view this "Casualty" as a Hellenistic exercise in rhetoric: what the American soldier in Iraq would say if, say, he spoke in Alexandrines. And author Scott Brown does have an assured rhetorical voice, so, content aside, the story is a pleasure to read. But on examining the content, one finds too much that is psychologically programmatic (the trope of murderous repression is jejune), and, worse, tendentiously editorializing (My Lai, as our chief objector noted, universal- and eternalized). Not the worst story I've ever read—the worst story would be the one I was never able to finish—but unworthy for its title to have become that of this anthology.

2 comments:

DCSteve1441 said...

Speaking as the Chief Objector, I appreciate Tim's nuanced, thoughtful comments on Scott Brown's story. And I will even soften my previous denunciation so far as to rank "A Casualty of War" as ONE of the worst stories I can remember reading.

But, as always, don't take my word for it: read it for yourself.

Cheers, Steve

David said...

I'm with Tim. I found this story a failed exercise in rhetoric at every level (and the internal contradictions in the piece were out of control). Scott Brown exposed himself, his faults ill-concealed by the attempt to cover his lack of gifts with stylistic sleight-of-hand. I hope he's a better Senator than he is a writer.