Swofford, Anthony 1970(?)-
Swofford, Anthony 1970(?)-
Born c. 1970, in Fairfield, CA. Education: Attended American River College, Sacramento, CA, the University of California at Davis, and the Iowa Writer's Workshop.
Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR, adjunct professor of humanities, until 2003; St. Mary's College, Moraga, CA, assistant professor of English, 2003-04. University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, teaching-writing fellow; Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY, writer in residence, 2002. Military service: U.S. Marines, 1990-1991; served in the Gulf War in a Surveillance and Target Acquisition/Scout-Sniper platoon.
Exit A (novel), Scribner (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor of nonfiction to periodicals, including the New York Times, Harper's, Men's Journal, and the Iowa Review. Columnist for Details magazine.
Jarhead has been adapted as a film and as an audiobook.
Anthony Swofford was born into a military family and joined the U.S. Marines. He served in the Gulf War in 1991 as part of the Surveillance and Target Acquisition/Scout-Sniper platoon. Swofford's first book, Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles, recounts his service during that war. The book, which was also adapted as a major motion picture, begins with Swofford's basic training, describing the usual tough drill instructor and soldiers' escapades drinking, fighting, and hunting for prostitutes. Once their Marine platoon dispatches to the Middle East, however, Swofford and his mates deal more with military brass infighting and dysentery rather than with the enemy Iraqi army. Nevertheless, Swofford and another Marine sniper are sent out on a mission to kill enemy officers only to have the mission halted when they get their targets in their sights.
Many critics praised Swofford's memoir. Noting that "there's not a clichéd moment in this rueful account of a Marine's life," a Kirkus Reviews contributor reported that Jarhead is "full of insight into the minds and rucksacks of our latter-day warriors." A Publishers Weekly critic commented that the author provides "an unflinching portrayal of the loneliness and brutality of modern warfare and sophisticated analyses of—and visceral reactions to—its politics." Several reviewers commented on the author's ability to combine the usual soldier's boasting with humor and a clear analysis of the horrors of war, even one that was easily won. "Although Swofford is not shy relating his various exploits in graphic words and scenes, there is more to this memoir than bravado," according to Peter Gilmore in the U.S. Catholic. Gilmore further observed: "Near the end of this memoir he pens the shortest of chapters with the deepest of feeling and insight."
Swofford turns from fact to fiction with his debut novel, Exit A. In an interview with Rachel Deahl for Publishers Weekly, Swofford related that he always considered himself a fiction writer and had previously written short stories. "Content dictates form for me, and also genre, and the story of my time in the Marine Corps and at war needed to be told as nonfiction," Swofford explained. The author added that the memoir "was simply the book I needed to write at that time." As for the novel, Swofford told Jay MacDonald in an interview on the BookPage Web site: "I wanted to capture these fascinating years, 17 and 18, where there is a lot of anxiety about what one is going to do in the world and what one's place is. And there is the anxiety and excitement of leaving home and the influence of your parents."
Exit A tells the story of Severin Boxx, a seventeen-year-old "military brat" who is living at the Yokota air base outside of Tokyo in 1989. A football player on his high school team, Severin strives for the typical American life and has a crush on Virginia Kindwall, who is half Japanese and the daughter of his football coach. However, Virginia has joined a Japanese robbery gang. As she tries to live out her hero-outlaw fantasies, she convinces Severin to also participate. Their escapades lead to severe consequences for both them. The novel then jumps ahead fifteen years. Severin has a Ph.D. and is unhappily married when his former coach, now the dying General Kindwall, asks Severin to help find his daughter, who is living in Japan with her own daughter and has cut off all ties to the general.
"Exit A (the title refers to the way out of the subway station near the air base) is at its best when Swofford describes the surreal netherworld created by the grafting of American military culture on to a strange and largely hostile land," wrote Stephen Amidon in the New Statesman. Keir Graff stated in Booklist: "The book starts off strongly, setting Severin's dilemma against the uneasy, and vividly depicted, symbiosis between base and city." Some reviewers commented that the author handled the first half of his story depicting the teenager years ably but felt that he was less successful with the second half of the book dealing with his protagonists' adult lives. However, a Kirkus Reviews contributor called Exit A "a well-rounded tale."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Swofford, Anthony, Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles, Scribner (New York, NY), 2003.
Armor, July-August, 2004, Kevin Benson, review of Jarhead, p. 83.
Book, May-June, 2003, James Sullivan, review of Jarhead, p. 83.
Booklist, January 1, 2003, Gilbert Taylor, review of Jarhead, p. 842; October 1, 2003, Jeanette Larson, review of Jarhead, p. 340; August 1, 2006, Keir Graff, review of Exit A, p. 8.
Bookseller, September 13, 2002, Nicolette Jones, "The Philosophical Detective: Nicolette Jones on an Unusual Crime Series, A Novel from Pile and Other Recent Acquisitions," p. 28.
Business Week Online, April 1, 2003, Thane Peterson, review of Jarhead.
Christian Science Monitor, March 20, 2003, review of Jarhead, p. 19; November 25, 2003, review of Jarhead, p. B4.
Commonweal, December 1, 2006, Keith C. Burris, review of Jarhead, p. 23.
DAV, May-June, 2006, "‘Jarhead’ Author Speaks Out for Disabled Veterans," p. 14.
Entertainment Weekly, March 14, 2003, Chris Nashawaty, review of Jarhead, p. 70; December 19, 2003, review of Jarhead, p. 83; January 12, 2007, Gregory Kirschling, review of Exit A, p. 83.
Harper's, November, 2005, Lawrence Weschler, "Valkyries over Iraq," p. 65.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002, review of Jarhead, p. 1822; October 15, 2006, review of Exit A, p. 1043.
Library Journal, January, 2003, Edwin B. Burgess, review of Jarhead, p. 126; January, 2004, Don Wismer, review of Jarhead, p. 183.
Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2003, Gloria Emerson, review of Jarhead, p. R8; January 14, 2007, Art Winslow, review of Exit A.
New Statesman, April 28, 2003, Maurice Walsh, review of Jarhead, p. 48; February 12, 2007, Stephen Amidon, review of Exit A, p. 60.
Newsweek, March 3, 2003, Malcolm Jones, review of Jarhead, p. 59.
New York Times, February 19, 2003, review of Jarhead, p. E1; March 17, 2003, Dinitia Smith, review of Jarhead, p. E1.
New York Times Book Review, March 2, 2003, Mark Bowden, review of Jarhead, p. 8; December 28, 2003, Scott Veale, review of Jarhead, p. 16; January 14, 2007, William T. Vollmann, review of Exit A, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, December 2, 2002, review of Jarhead, p. 41; March 31, 2003, Edward Nawotka, "On the Hells of ‘Jarhead’: What Does Anthony Swofford's Breakout Memoir Suggest about Wartime Reading Tastes?," p. 20; October 2, 2006, review of Exit A, p. 37; October 2, 2006, "This Will All End in Tears," p. 46; November 20, 2006, Rachel Deahl, "Beating the Literary Drums of War," interview with Anthony Swofford, p. 29.
Reviewer's Bookwatch, November, 2004, Betty Winslow, review of Jarhead.
Sabretache, September, 2003, Syd Wigzell, review of Jarhead, p. 50.
Spectator, March 22, 2003, Jonathan Mirsky, review of Jarhead, p. 38.
Times Literary Supplement, August 22, 2003, Christopher Coker, review of Jarhead, p. 22.
U.S. Catholic, November, 2003, Peter Gilmour, review of Jarhead, p. 32.
U.S. News & World Report, March 24, 2003, Justin Ewers, review of Jarhead, p. 52.
Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2003, Bing West, review of Jarhead, p. D8.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (April 25, 2007), Jay MacDonald, "‘Jarhead’ Author Takes a New Direction in Debut Novel," interview with Anthony Swofford.
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (July 11, 2003), William O. Pate II, review of Jarhead.
Combustible Celluloid,http://www.combustiblecelluloid.com/ (October 24, 2005), Jeffrey M. Anderson, "Interview with Anthony Swofford."
Esquire Online,http://www.esquire.com/ (July 11, 2003), Adrienne Miller, review of Jarhead.
Findlaw's Writ,http://writ.news.findlaw.com/ (April 18, 2003), Sam Williamson, review of Jarhead.
Guardian Online,http://books.guardian.co.uk/ (March 23, 2003), Tim Adams, review of Jarhead.
Houston Chronicle Onlinehttp://www.chron.com/ (February 28, 2003), Fritz Lanham, review of Jarhead.
Independent Online, http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/ (March 15, 2007), Victoria James, review of Exit A.
Onion A.V. Club,http://www.theonionavclub.com/ (January 29, 2003), Scott Tobias, review of Jarhead.
Powell's Web site,http://www.powells.com/ (July 11, 2003), Dave Weich, "Anthony Swofford Opens His Jar: Buzz Spreads Far and Wide."
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (March 10, 2003), Laura Miller, review of Jarhead.
St. Mary's College Web site,http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/ (September 27, 2004), faculty profile of Anthony Swofford.
USA Today Online,http://www.usatoday.com/ (March 12, 2003), J. Ford Huffman, review of Jarhead.
Washington Post Online,http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/ (March 21, 2003), "Confronting Iraq: A Marine Chronicle."