When Pop Culture Meets War

Two new novels make New Mexico the testing ground

Alibi.com (July 3–9, 2014)

Out There by Sarah Stark
Fiction, Paperback, $17.95

Novelist Sarah Stark acutely remembers her first Iraq War veteran, a student who “was soft-spoken, articulate.” A quiet poet, Ruben Santos would later become a template for the main character in Stark’s new novel, Out There.

It started back in 2007 with Stark and her class discussing One Hundred Years of Solitude, the renowned novel by Gabriel García Márquez. Her then-student, Santos, like her protagonist Jefferson Long Soldier, found solace in the text during his multiple duties abroad.

Stark remembers, “[Santos] really just blew away any preconceived notions about veterans, what they would look and act like.” At the time, the teacher and author was reading about the waves of returning soldiers and had imagined them differently. There were “no visible surface signs of what happened to him,” she says. He, in part, led Stark to write the story of a veteran who comes back to his home in Santa Fe. [click here read the entire review at Alibi.com]