'/> Uncommon Hours: Kansas Voices 2012 recognizes a story of the Iraq War
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kansas Voices 2012 recognizes a story of the Iraq War

“Echoes in the Static” is one of several stories I wrote about the Iraq war in 2006, when the delusion of an easy victory and exit from Iraq was already long past for all but the most hard-line of the Bush and Cheney faithful. By then “Mission Accomplished” was already a punchline and Cheney’s 2004 comment about the insurgency being in “its last throes” had conveniently been forgotten by his mouthpieces at Fox News.

The story was rejected by several literary magazines. This might have irritated me less—or caused me to question more the story’s merits—if I had seen other, better stories about the experience of war, of this war, portrayed in these magazines. Rather, I consistently found the topic neglected in favor of stories that lacked substance—love triangles, dead pets, writers writing about being writers, academic writers writing about being academic writers while entangled in love triangles as their pets died, so forth. (Hyperbole, maybe, but there’s more truth than exaggeration in it.)

I’ve sometimes speculated that if American literary magazines during the first decade of this century were all that remained a thousand years from now for historians and archeologists to assemble a history of this period, they’d have little way of knowing that the U.S. had engaged in the two most protracted and expensive wars in its history—or even that both our economy and planet had melted down, the latter literally.

“Echoes in the Static” sat in a drop file for five years, until I sent it to the Kansas Voices 2012 writing competition, where it got a blind reading and resurfaced with an honorable mention. I’d like to believe that my sense of vindication is more than just vanity. Only a thin sliver of this country’s population has experienced these wars firsthand. Perhaps this recognition is further evidence that there's something wrong with that picture—and with these wars.

The story is included in a printed collection of the 2012 Kansas Voices award winners. For more information, click here. I’ve also posted a copy in a PDF file, which is available by clicking here: “Echoes in the Static”

I am grateful to the Winfield Arts & Humanities Council for sponsoring Kansas Voices, sharing this story, and giving me an excuse to share the story of the story.

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