‘War Reporter’: Most of the time, blue forms work out great

Dan O’Brien is an Amerikanski poet and playwright. Those are his real professions, because O’Brien’s shit gets published and produced. He has a symbiotic relationship with longtime Canadian war correspondent Paul Watson, who has been through enough already yet suffers ongoing indignities. (He also has only one hand.)

I have no idea where I ran across any kind of description of O’Brien’s War Reporter. Whatever I read was convincing enough for me to fill out a blue form, very much not accompanied by a review. (They’ll use that as an excuse to ixnay your request.) An eternity passed, but, to the credit of the ladies at Collections Development, they bought it.


War Reporter was put out by an artisanal British publisher, which should have been another strike against it as far as those ladies are concerned. (Sometimes they buy British books immediately, as with Morrissey’s Autobiography. Other times they peevishly wait for a year [Unchosen] or roll the dice that the Americans will publish a book [Chapter and Verse].) I am making the blue-form system seem peevish and arbitrary because it is. Still, I’ve got 330-odd successes to my name.

And it is titles like this one that make it worth the intentional humiliation of CDD’s intentionally unusable forms and the ladies’ intentional pettiness. Because this book is almost one of a kind. I have read nonfiction typeset in poetic lines before; it can be done and it is done. I have never quite encountered lightly fictionalized near-verbatim transcripts typeset like poetry. War Reporter, then, is a nonfiction poetry novella. (The Dewey classification is 811.6, American poetry.)

Watson is a war reporter and we are dealing his direct recollections. I had to skip a lot of it. If this kind of treatment is disturbing, imagine being there.

Double-page sample: The War Reporter Paul Watson Goes to Hollywood; The War Reporter Paul Watson’s Cold Open

TPL has four copies of War Reporter. Mine is the only one that has moved. But that may change, especially for the Northern District copy I have, because that branch has a well-used set of new-book shelves with face-front display. (And I unfucked the barcode so you can read the cover.) Somebody’s gonna notice it.

I’ve complained before that the library never boasts about one of its strengths – a great breadth and depth of special-interest or intellectual or artistique titles. While I like to chide the library for not having RoboCop until I blue-formed it (!), my main purpose is to introduce unusual and indeed valuable items to the library’s collection. I do that so other people can enjoy them. The largest public library in the country should also be a place where serious people can read, watch, and listen to serious works (plus RoboCop).

(What about Jack Donovan? That’s going to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Or a system that processes 835,000 pieces a year can buy 30 more. Up to them, really.)