April Fools' Day? Tomorrow? No way! That's it, we're out for the weekend to plan some cyber-pranks to do on AOL. But we won't leave you hanging without fin-de-semaine reading material. Thanks to the Observer, we've read the 131-page proposal for Newsweek reporter Michael Hastings's upcoming I Lost My Love in Baghdad, which we're told agent Andrew Wiley has sold to
Random House Scribner for a cool north of a cool half-million. Far as we can tell, ILMLIB — which begins with epigraphs from Iraq General George Casey, Prussian icon Carl von Clausewitz, and "Angel of the Morning, 1960's pop song" (!!) — is some sort of experimental memoir about Green Zone romance leading up to the literal (that is, literal literal) January death of Hastings's gf Andi Parhamovich. And, yes, it is called I LOST MY LOVE IN BAGHDAD. Needless to say, this portends the end of Western civilization as such; highlights from the 75,000-word manuscript after the jump.
Ever wonder why first-person accounts of terrorism can't read more like haikus? Hastings rectifies things from the first with "Chapter I: The Day":
It is now 11:30 am.
The streets outside the Iraqi Islamic Party Headquarters, in the neighborhood of Yarmouk, are slowly emptying. Traffic disappears; shop owners decide it is the time to take a break. The street kids are nowhere to be seen.
The men are in position.
12:00 noon. The meeting ends, goodbyes are said, cards exchanged.
Another call. Perhaps a hand signal.
She is in the second car.
The first car drives out of the compound.
Three minutes later, her car follows.
She is sitting in the backseat.
It is her last day on Earth.
Yikes. Before "The Day," Hastings and Parhamovich were just your typical twentysomething Baghdad power-couple:
The week before a major battle had taken place on Haifa Street, a five minute drive from the bureau but outside the Green Zone... I wanted to get to Haifa street, what was being called "an insurgent stronghold." It took two days to process the request.
Andi had come over to the bureau Thursday afternoon. Everything was going well until I was about to leave her alone in the office. I got worried she would check my email on the screen of my computer.
"I have to close my email account, I don't want you looking at my email."
"What are you hiding," she asked.
"Nothing," I said," but I know if you see the name of any girl you'll get upset."
She didn't like this, and for about fifteen minutes I apologized, before we went to my bedroom.
This time, she forgave me quickly; she seemed to have gotten upset only because that was what was expected, the role we were so used to playing. I say something stupid, or do something stupid, she gets angry at me, I beg and apologize, tell her she is the love of my life, and we make up. We layed down for about an hour or so. We didn't have sex.
So much smoldering emotion. Almost makes you forget about the massive human suffering taking place out on Haifa Street. There are also text messages involving pandas:
The messages I sent her from my Iraqna gives me space for only 25 of them, and they don't have a date.
Love you cub [jan 17.
Love jan 17
Hug panda [jan 17
Cub love you
Leaving now love
I miss you
Love you cub
Love you baby
Be careful love
Going home soon
It's hard to know what to think. Sure, people pretend to support the troops, but given the literary predilections of the all-volunteer military, that mostly means "Support the War Correspondents" nowadays. Personal tragedy bleeds into History; insurgents; lovers' squabbles; suicide bombs; $500 K book deals. Yeah, someone get us a coping mechanism: things are pretty fucked up.