Michael Pitre, who served as a communications officer in the United States Marine Corps through two tours of duty in Iraq, will visit the Waukegan Public Library on Thursday, October 8, to discuss his acclaimed novel, Fives and Twenty-Fives. Pitre’s visit is one of many special events in Waukegan and surrounding areas in support of “Those Who Serve,” a two-month initiative by the Waukegan Arts Council in partnership with the City of Waukegan.
Fives and Twenty-Fives has its roots in Pitre’s experience as a Marine stationed in Iraq for two tours of duty, but it is not autobiographical in the sense that it is based on actual events that occurred during his deployments. Rather, Pitre approached his idea of writing a war novel by telling a uniquely fictional story inspired in part by the Iraqi interpreters who were essential to the Marines’ work. The “fives and twenty-fives” of the title are frequently the measure between life and death for a Marine, referring to the meterage sweeps for roadside bombs hidden in potholes. The novel follows its three main characters – Lt. Donavan, corpsman Doc Pleasant, and Kateb, the Iraqi interpreter known to the Americans as ‘Dodge’ – through experiences at war and as they adjust back to civilian life. In so doing, Pitre has constructed a novel of war that is deeply contextualized by what it means to go on living a post-war life.
“We’re excited to welcome Michael Pitre to the library for the second book talk and signing in our ‘Those Who Serve’ writers series,” said Richard Lee, Executive Director of the Waukegan Public Library. “Fives and Twenty-Fives is a gripping novel that explores the human side of war. By following its characters into their post-war lives, the reader gets a glimpse into the lifelong bonds forged in stressful, desperate situations.”
The novel walks a tenuous balance, never becoming the action novel one might expect, but growing increasingly powerful as the depth of the war’s impact on the characters is revealed. With a narrative bouncing between the present and memory, punctuated by the cold recitation of events through documents – military communications, letters, even Facebook messages – Fives and Twenty-Fives is a compelling, contemplative look at what it means to go to war and come home again.
Pitre’s appearance is the second in Waukegan Public Library’s “Those Who Serve” writers series, which will bring three acclaimed authors to the Library for book talks, signings, and Q&A sessions this fall. The exhibit and writers series represent the Library’s contribution to “Those Who Serve,” a community-wide initiative called Waukegan ArtWise, which in its inaugural year spotlights the experiences of American service men and women.
As part of the series, Waukegan Public Library welcomed former Marine officer, artist, and author Benjamin Busch in mid-September, with Busch’s photographs on display in the Library’s lobby through November 11. Author Kirsten Holmstedt will visit the Library on November 5, 2015, 6:30pm, for a book talk and signing. Holmstedt will discuss her book Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq.
For more information about Waukegan Public Library’s writers’ series, as well as Benjamin Busch’s ongoing “The Art in War” exhibit, please visit www.waukeganpl.org, or contact Amanda Civitello, Marketing and Communications Manager, at (847) 775-2560.
For more information on Waukegan ArtWise - “Those Who Serve,” a project of the Waukegan Arts Council in partnership with the City of Waukegan, please visit waukeganartwise.com.