His new novel is The Midnight Man.
Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Tomlinson's reply:
My first novel is set in rural Oklahoma and revolved around a capital murder trial, so I was reading up on the death penalty, the Oklahoma criminal justice system, and the politics of America in the mid-1990s. The one I’m writing now is about a U.S. Army veteran who has returned home, and is struggling with that transition, so my reading has pivoted to fiction and non-fiction about violence, war, and recovery.Visit David Eric Tomlinson's website.
William T. Vollmann’s Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means is a thoughtful, comprehensive exploration of violence and its root causes, effects, and justifications. I’m reading the edited edition – all seven volumes distilled into a single book – and I find Vollmann’s moral calculi, which describe justifications for violence in certain forms, to be fascinating. You end up learning just as much about Vollmann as you do about his subject, which can only be understood, I’m learning, in its historical context. As I’m also studying PTSD, this line about both the usefulness of and lasting psychological effects done by true, blue fear really hit home: “In real danger, fear is a friend; afterward he may not be, but once he first makes your acquaintance, then, like violence, he visits as he pleases.”
How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything by Rosa Brooks is a concise and convincing argument that war has become a kind of eternal, omnipresent feature of modern society. Globalization and the ubiquity of information and the technology to access and distribute it has moved the battlefield from physical to virtual and economic spheres, and as America increasingly depends upon its already stressed, all-volunteer military for non-combat-related functions, the idea of “the front” has become quaint, to say the least.
Matthew Hefti’s A Hard And Heavy Thing is a novel that begins as a suicide note written by a U.S. Army veteran. Hefti was an explosive ordnance disposal technician who deployed four times – twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan – and his story captures the idealism of youth, showing us his two young protagonists as they enlist just after 9/11. We see the boredom and terror of deployment, the struggle with guilt and shame many soldiers experience after losing friends in battle, and the depressive crash many veterans experience upon returning home. What begins as a suicide note written by a man who has given up on life, ends as a redeeming story in which the suicide note has become the novel we’re reading, illustrating how art can help to heal even the deepest wounds of war.