On the Spot: Roy Scranton

February 27, 2013

As an artilleryman in the Army’s 1st Armored Division, Roy Scranton was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. He draws from his experiences in Iraq as a fiction writer and co-editor of the new collection “Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War.”

Where did the idea for this book originate?
It started with a few veteran writer friends of mine in New York. We saw that the kind of stories we thought people needed to hear weren’t out there. There was a lot of nonfiction, even memoirs, but there wasn’t much fiction that gets readers into the imaginative space of deployment.

How is fiction uniquely suited to depict this war?
Mark Twain said fiction is limited because it has to stick to what’s possible. If you tell a story about something that really happened, it doesn’t matter how impossible it sounds — it really happened. So fiction can get at … I don’t want to say a deeper truth, but a human truth: what it’s like to be human in this space and time.

There’s a sense of horror and humor in your own story, “Red Steel India.” Was that based directly on your experiences in Iraq?
Most of the stories are based in our experiences, directly or indirectly. One of the things that was important to me in that story was to bring out the banality of war. The occupation was morally and physically awful, but it was especially awful in its daily tedium.

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