I don’t know what was going through Robert Bales’s mind in March, when he quietly picked up his rifle and went house to house shooting anyone he encountered. I have no idea how he arrived at the decision that this was an appropriate course of action. Perhaps it came suddenly. Perhaps he got some bad news from home, or learned he had lost yet another friend. Maybe it was gradual, the cumulative effect of violence pooling within him over time. Maybe what started as a trickle of anger during his first combat deployment grew into a torrent of rage by his fourth. But his action, which we call abhorrent, is visible to us only in its extremity. It is a manifestation, a symptom of the violence in which we have long been engaged.
When you pick up Stephen Dau's debut novel The Book of Jonas, I urge to set aside a good chunk of time to read it. I don't say that because it's a long book or one that is is difficult to read, but because if you are anything like me, you will not appreciate life interrupting your time with this novel. I found Dau's sparse prose and Jonas's story to be utterly engrossing....more
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