Deployment reads

Only an idiot goes to war without books.  Variety is key and throughout the months away books get shared or lost.  People will send me books and I'll send some home to lighten my load.  I remember reading 'The White Spider' while waiting for a helicopter on a trip around Kandahar.  Reading a mountain climbing book surrounded by sand and heat was soothing.

'The Sea-Wolf' by Jack London.  I don't know how many times I've read this.  Every couple years I pick it up and read it again.  My goal is to read the other stories included.  After I finish the title story.  Almost done.

'The Greek Way' and 'The Roman Way' by Edith Hamilton.  It's good to ponder civilization when surrounded by war. 

'Tribe' by Sebastian Junger.  My whole team read 'War' while we were in Afghanistan.  It was required before you were allowed to watch Restrepo.  The new book has been recommended by several people.

'Cross of Iron' because why not? 

'Up in the old hotel' by Joseph Mitchell.  This book was given to me by my friend Michael.  I've been reading it and trying to understand what it means to be a better writer.

Bukowski because, again, why not?

'Sapiens' by Harari.  It's good to ponder the big questions

Fighting and violence

I like fighting- but only my friends. A lot has been written about fighting and violence.  I'll just speak to my own life.  I played football as a boy.  I loved the sport.  I was never fast or particularly talented but I could hit.  That was my specialty- the transference of pain.  I never hated the opponent.  Often they were cross town friends.  But I liked to hit.  I didn't know the importance then of a violent outlet for young men.  Right after I hung up my pads for the last time I went to college and entered a dark time in my life, a clueless, searching time.  I studied philosophy, I became a vegetarian (not very well), I had hippy thoughts.  It was a dark time.  I left college and that came to an end.

I discovered punk rock.  I rediscovered violence.  The violence of the pit and the violence of the street.  Good times.

I was a commercial fisherman in Alaska with Jeff.  Different boats but same fleet.  One night after drinking too much in Craig or Ketchikan we got into a fight.  It's the fight between Mario and Warrell in 'Hell'.  And every couple years we rematch.  Jeff usually wins.

But this year's bout took place at the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club after a speed steel match and way too much Jack and Coke.  And this year I won.  Someday I'll be too old to fight and I don't like that idea.


The Centurions by Jean Larteguy

Have you ever not wanted to put a book on the shelf because you would be admitting that it is done?  This is how I feel about Lartéguy's The Centurions.  I drug my feet reading the last 50 pages because I didn't want it to end.  Luckily for me I have The Praetorians pre-ordered.  It comes out on June 7th.

These books have been long out of print yet have remained favorites of the counter-insurgency and small wars crowd.  Generals Petraeus and McChrystal are famously fans.

The novel follows a group of French parachute officers from the fall of Dien Bien Phu, through Communist imprisonment, to the battle of Algiers.  Lartéguy was a soldier who fought with the Free French in WW2.  His book is anti-communist and anti-leftist-intellectual which may explain why it has been out of print for so long.  One of the fundamental questions that gets mentioned around this book is: what happens when a class of soldiers realizes that the society they serve is no longer worthy of their sacrifice?  The legions returned to Rome and the Paras threatened to jump on Paris.

"nothing great, alas, has ever emerged from peace... Peace has always been the reign of mediocrities, and pacifism the bleating of a herd of sheep which allow themselves to be led to the slaughter-house without defending themselves."

"I've made two mistakes, gentlemen. I've confided in a woman and I've slept in a bed."

"Capitalist system... using money and technology as a substitute for faith, forgetting that the masses are the mainspring of all endeavor, corrupting them with modern amenities instead of keeping them wiry and alert with the offer of some valid purpose in life... The civilization of the frigidaire and the bidet."


Jack Donovan

Had drinks with Jack Donovan the other night.  He is the author of 'The Way of Men'.  Read that book!  Talked a lot about publishing and self publishing.  Jack sold over forty thousand copies of his first book. I can't even imagine that number.  And it was without a publisher.  A few days later he talked about the subject on his podcast and even mentioned our conversation.  I'm the guy who writes books for working class men who don't read.  Here's a link to that podcast => Play in new window  We also talked about the possibility of an honorable death in the post nation-state world and the importance of audio books.

More books

The Centurions was out of print for a long time.  It was one of the books I searched for in used shops.  I wanted to re-publish it on Greenside but couldn't find the rights holder.  Penguin beat me to it.  It's a classic of counter-insurgency and finally I get to read it.  I listened to On Killing at the gym and running and am reading On Combat (it's the same thing isn't it- reading and listening?).  Grossman is such a good writer- clear, clever, funny. Welcome Thieves was written by my friend Sean.  I like it that all my writer friends are more successful than me.  I don't know why.  I just do.  And I'm learning the myths of my people.  Writing a book set in Ballard motivated me to do this.


Sometimes I get lucky and the right books find me.  So much thought packed into these four books. I've been a Houellebecq fan for quite a while and buy the English versions of his books because they come out earlier than the US. Jack Donovan keeps popping up through different groups of friends. I'm going to reread this one a second time as a leadership manual. Sam Sheridan tours the world fighting and shows the devotion and work it takes to be tough. Huntington's book is a classic that counters a lot that we've been taught to think.

Trucks- Colonel Mustard

I had always wanted a 4x4. Who doesn't? I loved Whitey but when I found Col. Mustard in the deserts of Eastern Washington I knew I had my dream truck. I had built a 350 for Whitey and swapped that into the colonel and also stole the tailgate before sending Whitey to go live with Ian as a farm truck. Then came a four inch lift and 35" BFGs. La pièce de résistance was the exhaust. I scored some corvette headers and ran it through flow masters. 2.5" all the way. She grumbles nicely. But, it's still an old truck and has old truck problems- sometimes breaking down on the side of Snoqualmie Pass at night. She's my dream truck- when she's not trying to kill me.

Trucks- Whitey

For the last twenty-five years I've always had a pick up.  'Whitey', a 1972 GMC, was the first vehicle that I bought with my own money (technically I had bought a moped and a motorcycle prior but that's another story).  I think I paid $1200 for it and at the time it was everything I could scrape up. There is a calm to owning an old truck. People ran into me all the time and I really didn't care. An undercover FBI agent smashed in to me and financed my first trip to New Orleans. I shit you not- the insurance check was from the FBI. A cabbie and a school bus also hit me. I told both not to worry about it and they acted as if I were granting them some magic kingdom. An old truck is a simplicity.

Of course it was also a pain in the ass. Before I switched to electronic ignition, the points used to go  out and I'd have to set the timing. I carried a timing light and dwell meter in the toolbox and could do the whole operation pretty fast. I drove it to Ventura to fish squid and to Michigan a couple times to visit my parents. Sometimes I miss that simplicity, but not the poverty.


I just got some new business cards and it makes me think of the journey my first book traveled. This first solid draft was finished in 2006. I then spent a couple years sending it to publishers and agents accumulating the stereotypical drawer full of rejections. My break happened at a gallery show of my wife's art in Ballard. The gallery owner had a friend in the publishing business- Harry Kirchner. He asked to see the book, liked it and asked if he could show it to some friends (basically acting as an unpaid agent). A couple years later I was deployed with my Battalion in Mississippi getting ready for Afghanistan when I got an email from Jarret and Aaron at Dark Coast Press. They wanted to publish it and it came out in the fall of 2013. Unfortunately Dark Coast has since gone out of business. I got the rights back and put out an electronic version. It was a long road before I held my own book in my hands.


Ah, the writer's life.  It's not bad if you can survive it.  This is my everyday.  Working at the desk with my cat/editor.  She's not impressed.  I've been listening to the river traffic on my scanner.  There will definitely be more boats in future books.  We are living in a tiny house in the Irish Channel neighborhood of New Orleans. No car, just bikes. Kell and the duck are in the next room- the only other room.  The daily routine is a morning of writing, a run around Audubon park, and sometimes a pitstop for a Domilise's po boy.  And then some cocktails, cooking and music.  "Let's have lunch and talk about dinner."


Drove through Livingston Montana on the way home.  Jim Harrison lives here.  I crept by his house in a not too subtle stalk.  Nothing is subtle about a one-ton diesel.  I didn't have the balls or rudeness to bother him.  I know he received at least two copies of 'Hell'.  I'll keep waiting.  At night I retired to the roof top deck of the hotel. I drank a Jameson's and had a pipe.  This tobacco pouch belonged to my great-grandfather.  History makes us who we are.


"Ex Libris: 100 Artists, 100 Books is an exciting exhibition that aims to bring together the worlds of visual art and literature. The invited artists will present works that draw inspiration from books that are important or special to them. 

Attendees are encouraged to dress like a librarian or favorite author. Prizes will be awarded for best costume.

from 6-7 we will hear readings from local writers John Hamilton, Yonnas T Getahun, Charlotte Austinn, Trenton Flock, and Charles Mudede. 

To see the entire collection, please join us for the grand artist reception at AXIS Gallery in Pioneer Square on March 6th, from 6PM to 9PM.
AXIS Pioneer Square
308 1st Ave S.
Seattle, 98104 

This exhibition is curated by Seattle artist and entrepreneur, Siolo Thompson"

Here's a photo of me next to the reimagined version of Animal Farm by my wife, Kellie Talbot, who was part of the 100 artists.