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War Porn

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3.57  ·  Rating details ·  171 ratings  ·  29 reviews
“War porn,” n. Videos, images, and narratives featuring graphic violence, often brought back from combat zones, viewed voyeuristically or for emotional gratification. Such media are often presented and circulated without context, though they may be used as evidence of war crimes.
 
War porn is also, in Roy Scranton’s searing debut novel, a metaphor for the experience of wa
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Soho Press
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3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  171 ratings  ·  29 reviews


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Snotchocheez
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
3 stars

Author/ex-GI Roy Scranton really must have cojones of steel to take his solidly written take on the Iraq War and plant a ginormous IED for the reader to detonate (with but a few pages to spare) to all but destroy the preceding 350+ pages. Gutsy move (to give an unsympathetic perspective of the returned soldier, one that I'd not quite encountered yet in other novels I've read about the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts), but it damn near killed War Porn for me. The ending (which I'm sorry I'm c
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Jill
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Pornography is usually synonymous with smut, filth and vice; certainly, that definition has increasingly broadened to encompass war efforts. The image of the heroic solider fighting purposefully for a noble cause has been superseded by traumatized young men who are forced to endure repeated tours of duty because of the hubris of our leaders. Anyone who disagrees with the above statement probably is not a good reader for War Porn, written by a war veteran, which does not sugar-coat the reality of ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In this lucid, disturbing, subversive, and powerful work, Roy Scranton, an author I had never heard of before, has made it to my top shelf of contemporary American writers. He’s got the nature of Denis Johnson—the attitude and sensibilities, but with his own handcrafted lingual charisma, a book that forces you to pay attention without condescending or pandering to anyone. He writes about lives unwinding even as they coil together, and about worldview opposites whose hypocrisy’s overlap.

Scranton
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Daniel John
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a veteran of the Iraq War, I laud Roy Scranton's War Porn. Finally, an ambitious book from the pen of an ex-enlisted grunt that actually dares to engage the polemical -- and does so with searing artistic depth. The book, in theme and title, is very similar to the one I'm working on (on and off these days) so I had a bit of a fit, but of course it is also very different. Excellent, research at any rate, for me. But it was more than just that....Scranton captures the fetishized ugliness of war ...more
Joshua Buhs
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is an adolescent novel.

More than fifty years ago, Leslie Fiedler argued that American literature was essentially adolescent, obsessed with escape, uninterested in dealing straightforwardly with sex and death. The thesis applies exactly to this book.

In "War Porn." Roy Scranton wants to deal with America's most recent, and most nonsensical war, the invasion of Iraq during the early 2000s. He tells three nested stories: of a barbecue in Utah where a vet meets a clan of hipsters; the experience
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Marie
Sep 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
I wholeheartedly agree with this review by Joshua Buhs. The writing in this book wasn’t terrible, but despite outward appearances when I dug beneath what was on the page I came up empty. There is no subtlety in the story or the characters, which is something I expect from good literature (and yes, I judge this on a literary scale when the book is marketed as such).

My most generous thought for this book is that the whole book is intended to be “war porn” for readers. And yet, I don’t know that t
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Matt
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Up out of the ancient garden of Sinbad's Baghdad and the nightmare of Saddam's Ba'athist dystopia grew the fiber optic slums of tomorrowland, where shepherds on cell phones herded flocks down expressways and insurgents uploaded video beheadings, everything rising and falling as one, Hammurabi's Code and Xboxes, the wheel and the web, Ur to Persepolis to Sykes-Picot to CNN, a ruin outside of time, a twenty-first cyberpunk war machine interzone."
Kathleen O'Nan
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very difficult book to read but one that seems to be very truthful and accurate. The ending is devastating. Not for casual reading.
Shaw
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karel Baloun
Aug 15, 2017 rated it liked it
It's important that Iraqi veterans right books of their experience, and that these books are harsh, honest, and full of the pain of war. So we know not to do it anymore. Yet, this book intentionally left me mentally raped, drained of all human. So, why the fuck would I read a book like this? I'm angry that his English PhD and a decade of carefully crafted effort could leave me nothing of value.

I really liked the depictions of American Grunt life, the futility. This struck me as true, as from his
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Hossein
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
The best thing about War Porn is the narration of the politics and War, and to achieve such goal, it never makes the war sentimental. The sentimentality of dark sides of the war is narrated within the background of observable political views. I loved the notes at the beginning of each chapter describing the author's view in a half-independent way from the story. Another good point is that the violence among soldiers is surprising. You will become amazed by the patriarchal language among the sold ...more
Michelle
In War Porn, Roy Scranton looks at the second Iraq war from the perspective of three very different people at three different times in the war. The stories are extremely powerful. Moreover, it makes you look at the war and its impact in a whole different light.

Mr. Scranton has a way with words. He introduces each change in narrator with a hybrid stream of consciousness and poetry vignette that make for some of the most powerful sections of the entire book. Within each narrative, he paints a pict
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Dan Downing
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If one measure of a book is the reaction it provokes in a reader, then "War Porn" gets 5 Stars. The story is told in a number of voices, set in a number of geographical locations, over a period of a few years. Much of the book cries out, albeit indirectly, for George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, their sycophantic liars in the CIA, the journalistic community and Congress, to be tortured and slaughtered, not as the Coalition soldiers were, or the Iraqi civilians or the Iraqi armed forces were, but in ...more
Mark
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Hardcover. A brutal, honest, and awfully sad look at the Iraq conflict.
Joan E. Seeberger
War Porn

This is the first book I have read that tells the truth about Iraq and the continual war there and in Afghanistan.
Todd Butillo
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This comes even closer to the truth than Harry Parker's "Anatomy of a Soldier."

FTA4L
Brent
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gut wrenching and unexpected ending, helps to show the true costs of war and the scars that will never heal.
Travis Tatsch
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As long as there has been literature, there have been war stories. Ever since I started this one, a novel from Iraq War veteran Roy Scranton, I've been enthralled. Even though it took me a while to finish because of being busy from school, I'm glad I've finally finished it. When it comes to war literature, there tends to be two avenues; the first has a tendency to have a gung ho, patriotic, "we were the good guys all around" vibe, while the second, usually coming some time after the conflict, lo ...more
Lo
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-end
So many people complaining about the characters, the ending, the whatever. My understanding is that there is only one character in this book, and all the people moving about their stories, wondering, talking, doing or not doing, are all just faces of that one character, the only one that matters: the war itself.

The end didn't irritate me, it walked in time to the very real marching tune of emotional exhaustion, belligerent meaninglessness, and smaller, hometown violence that has been claiming ev
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David Tromblay
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book told through enough different gazes to give you a complete picture of the situation so many where thrust into and dealt with as best they could. In the end, no one is left undisturbed. Not even the reader.
Valiant Abello
Nov 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is a terrible book. The characters are flat, underdeveloped and cliche ridden. What plot there is is threadbare and basic. This is a book that does not deserve to be in my shelves.
William Kirkland
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: iraq, war, fiction
War Porn (2016) by Roy Scranton is not a book to be easily read. To be read, yes, but not easily. Often mentioned in lists of “best contemporary war fiction,” and long on my reading list, it was sent to me by a friend who is as confounded as I am by mankind’s continuous rallying to the flag of war despite the mountains of bodies over which it flies.

Earlier, “first wave” participant written books from the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, as one reviewer has called them, share certain themes:

“… the
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Cameron Redfern
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
To cerebral , Left me scratching my head.
Elliott Colla
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
If your anger about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has lost its edge, Roy Scranton’s debut novel, War Porn, will help you recommit. It takes a while to appreciate the disjointed quality of the plot, which hopscotches back and forth through the lives of two U.S. soldiers, Specialist Wilson, whose deployment to Iraq transforms him from a poet nice-guy into something else, and a National Guard military police officer, Aaron Stojanowski, who returns stateside jagged and dangerous. In writi ...more
Elizabeth
Nov 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Don't know why, but I enjoy reading fiction about war. It started with Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo, worked through Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and Going after Cacciato and now, War Porn by Roy Scranton. After listening to this interview, http://nwpr.org/post/fire-and-forget-..., rebroadcast for the debut of Scranton's new book, War Porn. At 4/5 through I find the book difficult to read because of the senselessness of so many things that happen to the characters in the book. Whi ...more
Jonathan Noe
Aug 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I didn't give this book less than 3 stars because I found it hard to put down. I also wouldn't give it more than 3 stars because as much as I enjoyed it and as much as I think it is well-written I thought that there was too much focus on what happened in Iraq and not enough focus on what it meant and the aftermath. But that is just my personal opinion and it obviously wasn't the direction that he wanted to take it. It's just at a certain point the iraq experience is overkill. I think we have bee ...more
Shawn
Aug 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Bought this based upon reviews in NY Times, LA Times, & coverage on "The Millions" but feel like I fell for hype. It really feels like much less than it is billed as - was expecting something new to be said but his general premise seems to be: "War is bad." Perhaps in America this is a surprising view & thus the praise from the above mentioned publications. The writing is passable, not exceptional. The bookending story of a somewhat psychotic returning vet feels forced & somewhat fa ...more
Pete Bosler
Dec 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
While I enjoyed Scranton's articles in the New York Times and his previous book, "Learning to die in the Anthropocene," I couldn't get into this one. The writing style changes from prose to nearly free-form verse as it changes time periods from present day to flashbacks to the Iraq war. I found it distracting and overwrought with unearned drama.
Rosie  B
rated it really liked it
Aug 31, 2018
Alan Hardin
rated it really liked it
Dec 18, 2016
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“It took the sun a long while to come over the mountains and until it did my vision was bound to the few gray yards around the trailer. It was day but not day, dim but not night, a fugue of half-thoughts and disconnected images, pulsing with power beyond easy meaning—a crow flapping, glowing black against the gray—a shadow like a man crouched with a knife—parking lots aching with pink blur—so overwhelmed by thought I’d have to sit back, set down the pen, set down my coffee, and it goes on—glass towers gleaming out of gray cityscapes, blinding silver—an old man with a red guitar—the booming flame of rockets trailing smoke—a girl’s face, her freckled cheek downy with fine hairs, fleshy lips spread in a smile over crooked teeth. I sink in reverie—and what, what does it mean?—then scrape a few more lines with my pen. Nothing even approximate. Another failure.” 1 likes
“Day and night, bombs crashed into Baghdad. You watched it on TV, you heard it on the radio, you saw it from the roof and when you ventured out into the street: soldiers and civilians, arms and legs roasting, broken by falling stone, intestines spilling onto concrete; homes and barracks, walls ripped open; Baathists and Islamists, Communists and Social Democrats, grocers, tailors, construction workers, nurses, teachers all scurrying to hide in dim burrows, where they would wait to die, as many died, some slowly from disease and infection, others quick in bursts of light, thickets of tumbling steel, halos of dust, crushed by the world’s greatest army.” 1 likes
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