Friday, December 30, 2016

Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq

Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq by Sarah Glidden, 298 pages.

The author accompanies two journalists, Sarah and Alex, from the multimedia journalism collective, the Seattle Globalist, on their self-assigned journey through the countries named in the subtitle. Traveling with them is Sarah's friend Ben, a former Marine who had served in Iraq. The journalists want to interview refugees in the three countries they will visit, and Sarah also wants to interview Ben, seemingly to get him to agree that she is right about the war in all its facets and that she is also right about why he joined the Marines. Ben ostensibly wants to get a fuller perspective on the war, and he's also getting college credit. The author wants to write this book about the experience. She does a wonderful job of relating the difficult stories of many of the displaced people that Sarah and Alex meet and interview. Glidden is doing this at one remove, painting and presenting the journalists as they interview and as they discuss what they think the story is. You see hints of their preconceived notions and their bits of bias. Glidden also does not shy away from the stories that make her uncomfortable; people who blame America and Americans for their situations, and Ben and Sarah's ongoing conversation that seems to frustrate all in the group.
I was amazed to find that all of the art Glidden presents consists of hand-painted watercolors. I don't know what I thought the illustrations were before I found that out, didn't give it enough thought, I guess. Books like this, a work of graphic non-fiction that tells a interesting story while also containing such well-crafted art are amazing to me, being so far beyond what I could imagine doing.

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