All Quiet on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque
translation by A. W. Wheen
$16.60 List Price
I READ ONLY ONE WAR NOVEL while I was writing my own. There were reasons: I didn’t want to hear another novelist’s voice as I was trying to find my own way into a soldier’s mind. Also, my book is about a marine coming home from Iraq, and every war has its own weather and terrain, its own equipment and language. I didn’t want details from a different war in my head, and I couldn’t read novels about the Iraq war, because none, by then, had been written.
War writing follows a sequence: first reportage, then memoirs. For years, that’s all there is. Novelists are always last: Ten years after the invasion, the first novels about the Iraq war appeared. Fiction is ruminative, emerging slowly from experience, like water seeping upward to a spring.
My own book was engendered by an account in the New York Times about our
… full text available to registered users