Sunday, October 1, 2017

Book Review: 'The Chords of War' by Christopher Meeks

Having read and reviewed every book and play written by the gifted Christopher Meeks it was with some trepidation to pick up a novel about the aftermath of war – the scars those of us who made it home form Vietnam still carry – and see that the book tied in the war in Iraq with the now acknowledged PTSD shadow with coming of age and rock and roll. Could this possibly work? Well, with Christopher Meeks at the helm and certainly with the input of the true experiences of his former student and co-author Samuel Gonzalez Jr., this promised to be a fresh look at what the ceaseless wars in the Middle East and bildungsroman and zeitgeist the push/pull of art versus reality (or are they the same thing?) could expose. Not only does the book work, the pages practically turn themselves, so adept is Meeks, now joined by Gonzalez, at getting to the craw of each hurdle he asks his hero to encounter.

Yes, this is a coming of age story that is very much of our time. It is a true story with some name changes and even incorporates photographs of Gonzalez’ band and shots of performances. It brings immediacy to a story that otherwise seems to go beyond possible or credible and anchors it.

The synopsis distils the tale better than most – ‘Inspired by the true story of author’s former student, Samuel Gonzalez Jr., THE CHORDS OF WAR is the tale of punk rock teenager Max Rivera from Florida, who seeks purpose as he tries to understand why his life always teeters between music and mayhem. After he's kicked out of his band on tour, he joins the Army to change his life. It's after 9/11, and he finds himself under fire in Iraq, part of the surge in Baqubah. In order to deal with teen angst and raging hormones among daily patrols, coordinated battles, and women fighting alongside him, Max creates a new band with soldiers. Will Max and his friends make it?’

Strong writing, acrid veracity of language and emotion, this little book is an important one – one we all need to read for ever so many reasons because the content affects us all, now and always. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, September 17
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.