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SNAFU reconsidered The evolution of writing a true war story from Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" to Tim O'Brien's"How to Tell a True War Story," and the blogs of "The Sandbox"

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Description: The Sandbox , a collection of recently published military blogs, continues the narrative arc of the war literature of Kurt Vonnegut and Tim O'Brien. As a first draft of narrative history these blogs will be the origin of fiction that is to come. Bowdlerized as Situation Normal All Fouled Up, "SNAFU" has been a part of American English since WWII when it was first employed to detail that which is normal and abnormal. Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried , especially "How to Tell a True War Story," are narrative attempts to rectify the SNAFU presented in modern warfare and the recollection and re-telling of that experience. Though it can be interpreted as the normal is now fouled or that a fouled situation is normal, SNAFU succinctly establishes the narrative uncertainty of experience and perception. As an element in war literature, SNAFU touches on time/ space, memory and narrative framework. These war narratives reconsider SNAFU in order to establish narrative truth for the reader and the writer in the written space s of time's linearity, the narrative spaces of here/ there and in between here/there, actuality and perception, and the shape that an event takes upon having been written. In Slaughterhouse Five , Vonnegut admits the difficulty in writing and addressing his subject; O'Brien's short story "How to Tell a True War Story," from The Things They Carried , picks up Vonnegut's method and prescribes and exemplifies how a war narrative can be written while openly addressing and engaging its difficulties and narrative fluidity. The mil-bloggers of The Sandbox narrate their experience while in it to establish their reality. All three texts may be classified as historiographical meta-fiction in that they assert an interpretation of the past while being intensely self-reflective. Thus the texts straddle the literary place between hysterical realism and creative non-fictional autobiography. While about the experience and recollection of the narrator, the texts are more about the experience and its impact on the individual and how one's personal narrative has been thus impacted. In these narratives, the normal and the fouled are difficult to separate and in some cases, indistinguishable and interchangeable. The scope of this project seeks to connect the literary interpretations and representations of World War II found in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five , with that of Tim O'Brien's Vietnam in "How to Tell a True War Story," and the contemporary soldier-writers of The Sandbox currently writing from their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work