Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Review of

"Mars" (via Brevity)
A guest review by RBM of debut nonfiction at, "Three Cups of Veritas," appears today on Brevity's nonfiction blog thanks to editor (and co-godfatherDinty W. Moore. An excerpt:
“In the face of violence and intimidation, Afghans are fighting and dying for their country, establishing local police forces, opening markets and schools, creating new opportunities for women and girls, and trying to turn the page on decades of war,” the president is saying confidently. But the modesty of his blue tie conveys less optimism.
“The way I’ve always understood Greg” (Mortenson), one embittered anthropologist tells [Jon] Krakauer in the closing pages of Three Cups of Deceit, “is that he’s a symptom of Afghanistan. Things are so bad that everybody’s desperate for even one good-news story. And Greg is it. Everything else might be completely fucked up over there, but here’s this guy who’s persuaded the world that he’s making a difference and doing things right.”

Meanwhile, on Oshima Island, some 100 miles from Fukushima, Grandma Fumiko, almost 80 and the matriarch of the Murakami family, has already awoken to a ruined house. She is perhaps looking out to sea and recalling the curious American in a spotted raincoat who recently remarked that after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it seemed particularly sad that her countrymen should again be fearing an invisible fallout. (The old woman clutched at a bamboo stick to escape the magnitude 9.0 mayhem of March 11; “I saw the wave: lots of bubbles, so it was white. It was low.”)

“The Murakami family’s is the last tsunami story I will tell,” writes William T. Vollmann, almost apologetically, halfway through Into the Forbidden Zone.
For another favorite Brevity post that's garnered just a few more comments, see our update to RBM's "In an Age of Great Nonfiction Writing, Too Much Nonfiction Writing?" And for Brevity's current issue, a tribute to tornado-ravaged Tuscaloosa, visit

Update (July 1, 2011) -- "Three Cups of Veritas" has been cross-posted with additional links to the editor's blog at Colorado State University's Center for Literary Publishing, where RBM has periodically worked on Colorado Review nonfiction. Check out this blog's "publishing" tag for his other CLP posts.

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