America’s Soundtrack Is “Bad Romance”: An Interview with Greil Marcus

Kembrew McLeod









In anticipation of an upcoming visit to Iowa City and public lecture by acclaimed music writer Greil Marcus, TIR asked Kembrew McLeod to pose a few key questions to him. Topics ranged from canonization to adaptation to populism, from Donald Trump to Bob Dylan to Lady Gaga. 

Interview with Katherine Schifani, author of "Pistol Whip"

Kate SchifaniIn March 2015, TIR intern Erin Marshall interviewed Kate Schifani, whose essay "Pistol Whip" won our 2014 Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans.

EM: Could you discuss why you decided to write about your military experiences?

KS: I’ve always been writing ever since I was a little kid. It started when I was still there [in Iraq], and it was kind of a way to send things out to my friends and family to let them know I was still alive. I would just summarize what was going on. Halfway through my deployment, I started getting e-mails from friends of friends. When I got back, I started to think more seriously about what I was trying to do with writing.

Interview with Anthony Swofford

Anthony SwoffordAnthony Swofford is the author of the memoirs Jarhead and Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails and the novel Exit A. In 2014 he served as the judge of TIR’s Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans, naming Katherine Schifani the first-place winner and awarding second place to Brian Van Reet. In April 2015 he visited Iowa City for a screening of the film made from Jarhead and a reading alongside Schifani and Van Reet. TIR managing editor Lynne Nugent caught up with him between events.

Did That Really Happen? An Interview with Veteran Writers

Jesse Goolsby










I was at a literature conference a few years ago when someone asked a well-respected panelist what, in his opinion, made Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried so powerful.

“He was there,” the scholar said. “That pain and honesty, the way it’s translated from memory to page, you can’t fake that. Only a soldier who was present could have written it.”

Even then, sitting in that conference room, I thought the answer was the biggest load of shit I’d ever heard. Of course you can fake that—isn’t brilliant appropriation one of the goals of fiction?