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Book Nothing in Reserve: true stories, not war stories. by Jack Lewis (2011-04-19)

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Nothing in Reserve: true stories, not war stories. by Jack Lewis (2011-04-19)

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  • Litsam Press (1802)
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Review Text

  • By Dusty S. on January 20, 2015

    What a rip-off….. I purchased Jack Lewis’s book “Nothing in Reserve: True Stories, Not War Stories” with extremely high hopes. The title created expectations of heroic deeds and action packed adventures from a truthy perspective. While reading the biography of the author I was stuck by his education. Jack Lewis has a screenwriting pedigree, having graduated from Washington State University and another school in the southern western part of the country, the name escapes me. This only heightened my giddiness at the prospect of a jam-packed cavalcade of escalating titillating and ever intensifying antagonistic tension!! Oh joy!! I thought, as I cued up the Wagner and launched head first into a word based first person shooter of truth. I believed the “Afterword” was pure genius……..the confusion took a bit to soak in. As I started reading the book, through the lens of an armchair Hollywood producer, I was initially struck by the utter lack of hyperbole. For a screenwriter this is a sin. The light shown upon his subjects is stark, and real, no makeup and no Photoshop. These are real and flawed lives whose stories are knitted together like a spider repairs its web, in the weak spots. My producer brain reads further into the narrative waiting for the screenwriter to appear, not in the story but in the telling. I’ll kill the tension now by saying it never happens. Not one firefight, not one heroic stand by a few against many. Jack even cloaks the ironies of the story in a literary lasagna, layers of sincerity, values, ethics and emotion all tied together with a sauce of honesty. Nothing but compelling exercises in existential thought with a protagonist you not only begin to know, you begin to identify with, you share with. WTF? As a screenwriter you have a ways to go, sir With all of that I said I read Mr. Lewis’s blog to track his development as a screenwriter and potential Hollywood upstart. As an armchair Hollywood Heavyweight and diligent TMZ follower I can say with the utmost authority that Mr. Lewis has a long way to go. I have yet to see ONE opportunity for CGI. His narratives have substance and cohesiveness. They can be easily assimilated by a critical thinker and a simpleton alike, I being the latter rather than the former. I will continue to read Mr. Lewis’s offerings as I am now hooked on his prose. Like a Super Fungus discovered by Paul Stemitz, Mr. Lewis has created a living network in my organic brain. Knitting my damaged synapses and addled nerves with my emotional and ethical paradigms like a spider repairs it’s web, in the weak spots

  • By John Lasseter on October 22, 2017

    As a quick disclaimer, I’ve known the author and his family for several years. That just means that he knows I’ll say exactly what I think of the work, even when it’s something personal like this. Too, I read the book for the first time not long after I met him, early enough that the book itself formed much of my first impressions. And with that caveat, I’ll tell you that you’re in for a treat in reading this work, whoever you are.The book in its outward presentation is a memoir, telling Lewis’ story from the formation of his early identity and sense of self through his military service, the collapse of those things after returning home from the second Iraq war, and the rebuilding of self from the ashes of that. It is beautifully written, told as a series of set pieces that all form a single, coherent narrative but stand individually. Like any first-rate memoir, the book is much more than just autobiography.There is the occasional off note in the prose, in places where it adopts some of the more unfortunate conventions of internet-driven slang (my personal peeve is Shatner punctuation, i.e. the Use. Of. Periods. For. Emphasis.), and in some places, the personality he brings out in the writing turns abrasive. Still the first of those is a minor quibble, while the second is just the flesh and blood of any real person. Lewis is a superb raconteur, so that reading the book feels a bit like kicking back with him and a couple of pints, but it’s the fundamental kindness and decency lying at the heart of the work that really carries it. What struck me about the stories is how many of the individual stories resonated personally, even though I share so little of the experiences described therein, at least in any direct sense (I’m not a vet, hate guns, don’t ride motorcycles, and I had a great relationship with my father). That to me is one of the marks of really good storytelling, that ability to draw someone in to an unfamiliar experience not just imaginatively but emotionally.

  • By Sharon D. Allen on June 24, 2011

    In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I would delight in a dissertation on dental insurance if it were written by Jack Lewis. I could have sped through "Nothing in Reserve" in a few hours. But Lewis is my favorite type of writer, a journeyman wordsmith and a master of his craft who makes the actual act of reading enjoyable. I found myself reciting parts aloud just to roll the words around on my tongue. Like an art lover in a museum, I ambled slowly through it, savoring the clever wordplay, and, honestly, coveting a few of his phrases. His war was also my war and there are places where he describes how I feel about it better than I can. We were in different units in different parts of Iraq, but the next time someone asks me what it was like, I'm going to give him this book.The stories themselves are just as good as the construction of them. Lewis flays himself open and bleeds all over the page. His honesty, humility, and vulnerability about the war, the crumbling of his marriage and his slow recovery from both is bracing and inspiring.He's better than the vast majority of writers at getting the right details right. The stuff that people who weren't there will skitter over easily, but that people who were there will latch onto. A significant portion of the book is not set in Iraq, yet, like all soldiers, Lewis's military experience colors even the most civilian of events.A person doesn't have to be a veteran to appreciate this book. And a person doesn't have to be a divorcee. He or she just has to be human.


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