An Afghanistan Picture Show: Or, How I Saved the World

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9780374101053: An Afghanistan Picture Show: Or, How I Saved the World

Recounting his journey through war-torn Afghanistan, the author of You Bright and Risen Angels describes the orphans, refugees, guerilla leaders, bureaucrats, corrupt officials, and has-been politicians in the region.

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About the Author:

WILLIAM T. VOLLMANN is the author of ten novels, three collections of stories, and many volumes of non-fiction, including a seven-volume inquiry into whether and how violence may be justified, Rising Up and Rising Down, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His novel Europe Central won the National Book Award in 2005. Into the Forbidden Zone: A Trip Through Hell and High Water in Post-Earthquake Japan was published last year by Byliner. He is the editor of The Best American Travel Writing 2012. The Dying Grass, the fifth book in Vollmann's "Seven Dreams" series, will be published in 2013. He lives in California.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Just why a respected and talented young novelist like Vollman (Fathers and Crows, reviewed above, etc.) would want to publish dated jottings on a 1982 sojourn around and, briefly, in war-torn Afghanistan is anyone's guess. Whatever the reason, there's not much to commend in this digressive log, whose title alludes to a slide presentation the author mounted upon his return to northern California. In seemingly random fashion, Vollman recalls a journey taken to comprehend what had happened to the keystone Asian republic in the wake of its 1979 invasion by Soviet forces. Referring to himself as ``the Young Man'' throughout, the author provides a quasi-picaresque narrative of his travels in Pakistan and his short thrust with a mujihadeen band into Afghanistan itself. Vollman's protagonist is forever obliged to confront his own inadequacies following brief encounters with refugees, would-be warriors, corrupt bureaucrats, overworked officials, retired military men, out-of-office pols, and good-hearted citizens who go out of their way to make him feel welcome in their country. By the author's account, those whom the Young Man met in his travels invariably invested him with preternatural powers, owing to his American heritage. Whether Vollman intended to document the futility of trying to help others, or some other truth, is unclear. For all their purposeful irony, though, his short-take recollections add little to our understanding of a tragic chapter in world history. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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