Thursday, February 2, 2017

"Dark at the Crossing"

Elliot Ackerman is the critically acclaimed author of the novels Dark at the Crossing and Green on Blue. He is based out of Istanbul, where he has covered the Syrian Civil War since 2013. His writings have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Repub­lic and The New York Times Magazine, among other pub­lications, and his stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories. He is both a former White House Fellow and a Marine, and has served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart.

Ackerman applied the Page 69 Test to Dark at the Crossing and reported the following:
From page 69:
While the others ate, Latia continued: “Simi had a large litter, eleven kittens. She couldn’t nurse all of them. Each day I had to run five blocks to the store, dodging snipers so I might barter what little I had—some jewelry, silverware, a tea set—for fresh cream smuggled in from the few working farms in the countryside. The city had been nearly destroyed, but for those of us who stayed it was a strangely magical time. The rebels hung bedsheets across the major road intersections, screening their movements and ours. A beautiful tactic. The sun would pass through the sheets glowing red, blue, or yellow. If there was wind, it was like walking between the sails of an endless tall ship. My whole world was reduced to five city blocks, eleven kittens, and their daily ration of cream.”

Latia looked directly at Haris. “Does this sound horrible to you? To call it a magical time.”

Haris shook his head, no. What he wanted to say, he couldn’t—he admired her. She had reduced her world to a single thing worth fighting for. He drank down the rest of his raki, poured another glass, letting his head swim pleasantly with it.

“I would’ve sacrificed myself for Simi,” said Latia, “but her kittens eventually grew large enough to survive without me. They no longer needed cream. One morning they all left, moved on it seemed. So I’ve done the same, coming here.”
In this section Haris Abadi, the novel’s protagonist, has met Latia a Syrian refugee who has crossed the border into southern Turkey after fleeing her home in Aleppo. She is reflecting on her pet cats who for some months she had been reluctant to abandon but who, in the end, wound up abandoning her due to lack of food. This is a small, almost silly incident, and in the pages that follow Latia is teased for staying on in Aleppo for her cats. However, Dark at the Crossing is a novel about the grief associated with a lost cause, whether that cause is a revolution, a friendship, or a marriage. In this scene, we see Latia, a relatively minor character, grappling with the loss of her beloved pets, which painfully abandoned her. We have only met the main characters in the novel at this point, but in the pages that follow their stories of loss will be revealed and we will see the choices they are forced to make as they attempt to rebuild their lives. In this regard, Latia’s anecdote is indicative of much in the novel.
Visit Elliot Ackerman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Green on Blue.

My Book, The Movie: Green on Blue.

My Book, The Movie: Dark at the Crossing.

--Marshal Zeringue