By Chet Yarbrough
Written by: Brian Turner
Narration by: Kevin T. Collins
“My Life as A Foreign Country” is a bombastic failure as an audio book. Brian Turner is an ex-soldier and current author/poet. He is poorly served by Kevin Collins’ narration of an insightful contrast of soldiers fighting past and present wars. Turner’s meaning is mangled by the narrative actor. The listener hears a narrator’s acting voice more than the literal confusion, frustration, and terror of an American soldier fighting a war in a foreign country. The author’s words describing post-traumatic stress are inadvertently trivialized because meaning is lost in the narrator’s bluster.
“My Life as A Foreign Country” is a memoir by Sergeant Brian Turner, a real soldier in 2003 who leads other soldiers in Iraq. He re-creates his personal trail of tears; his pre-deployment training, his war experiences, his homecoming, and his struggle to return to a normal life. What Turner writes reminds readers of what they have read as bibliophile, or experienced as returning veterans. Turner writes of a veteran’s return to society; i.e. of moving from one place to another in hopes of leaving the past, and finding a future in the present. He writes of wandering into and out of self-indulgent experiences in the hope of finding something dependable, more permanent, and worth living for. Turner remembers faces of the enemy in his dreams. He re-lives the violence and emotions of combat.
Turner is a multi-generational soldier. He contrasts what he believes is his grandfather’s, father’s and uncle’s experiences, in earlier wars, with his experience in Kosovo and Iraq. The remote killing of drones is revealed as a technological advance that carries the same psychological damage as being a pilot in WWII or Vietnam. “My Life as A Foreign Country” needs to be re-produced as an audio book to fulfill its promise as a memoir of modern war. Kevin Collins’ audio book version of “My Life as a Foreign Country” is disappointing.