“Contemporary war, in America at least, is now defined as much by coming home as it is by shipping out” (Cook).
I read a 2010 review posted on themillions.com about Brian Turner’s 2nd book, Phantom Noise. Considering his book touches on the after effects of war, rather than focusing solely on the act of war itself, I thought that this quote from the reviewer was perfectly appropriate. We often don’t think of war as an effect, but merely a cause– an ongoing process without end. We don’t think about the soldiers after the war– when they are forced to come home and are met with uncertainty.
I could be wrong, but I feel like I read somewhere once that PTSD was not considered an actual disease that needed treatment, and that men who suffered from this were simply put in institutions. It’s nice to see an author shine some light on such a fragile subject in such an eloquent way like poetry. War is seen as ugly and crude, so for it to be talked about in such a way makes it almost haunting. I think, however, that may have been Turner’s point in choosing to use poetry to describe his experience in the Iraq war. Because war is haunting.
I would like to draw a parallel, however, between Turner’s poetry after his return from the war and that of Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five. Pilgrim suffered from PTSD, and we are given glimpses of the war through his flashbacks and ramblings which transport us and make us feel as if we are there with him. Like Phantom Noise, Vonnegut uses language to describe an ugly reality and make it accessible for those who do not understand that realm. The realities of war, though troubling, are something that should be remembered even if talking about it does make us uncomfortable. Ignoring it will not stop it from continuing. So it goes.
Cook, Josh. “The Millions.” : War Comes Home: Brian Turnerâs Phantom Noise. 20 July 2010. Web. 19 Mar. 2012. <http://www.themillions.com/2010/07/war-comes-home-bryan-turners-phantom-noise.html>.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five. 1969. Print.