Monday, February 23, 2015

Elliot Ackerman

Elliot Ackerman is a writer based out of Istanbul. His fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and Ecotone among others. He is also a contributor to The Daily Beast, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as a White House Fellow in the Obama Administration. Prior to this, he spent eight years in the military as both an infantry and special operations officer.

Ackerman is a decorated veteran, having earned a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his role leading a Rifle Platoon in the November 2004 Battle of Fallujah and a Bronze Star for Valor while leading a Marine Corps Special Operations Team in Afghanistan in 2008.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Ackerman's reply:
I’ve got this blue backpack I lug around with me. It’s the type of thing you probably kept a Trapper Keeper in during high school and I carry my laptop, a couple of Moleskin notebooks, and whatever I’m reading in it. Looking into my blue back pack right now, I’ve got a few things: first, is the novel Munich Airport by Greg Baxter. In it, an unnamed American is stranded in Germany due to a thick fog as he tries to repatriate the remains of his sister who starved herself to death. While the protagonist navigates the byzantine German bureaucracy with his father alongside, a dark family history is revealed which is at times humorous, tragic, and a moving meditation on one man’s struggle to find fulfillment in work, art, and his relationships.

Crammed next to Munich Airport, is Atticus Lish’s novel Preparation for the Next Life. This love story, between an Iraq War veteran and Chinese-Uyghur immigrant, is a beautiful read and the story it tells—of isolation, of contemporary America—is so undeniably of this moment. It’s one of these books which I could imagine someone reading a hundred years from now if they wanted a sense of what life was like in this second decade of the 21st century.

Lastly, crammed in the bottom of my bag, are a couple of slim volumes I always carry, opening them from time to time to read random passages. Dog-eared, with many torn pages from living in my backpack, I carry these books as talismans. They’re an individual copy of the Song of Solomon, one of the world’s oldest and most beautiful love stories—hard to believe it’s sandwiched between Ecclesiastes and Isaiah—as well as The Old Man and the Sea.
Visit Elliot Ackerman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Green on Blue.

--Marshal Zeringue