Photo: The U.S. Army.
Columbus, Georgia is, above all else, an Army infantry town, and it showed in the crowd on the Friday night that Tim O’Brien came to tell war stories: it was an audience of windbreakers and baseball hats marked by military insignia; square jaws and tattoo sleeves from shoulder to wrist; and my husband next to me, just back from his first deployment to Afghanistan, his shoulders bigger, his hair cropped short on the sides. I fit in better with the rest of the turnout at the historic Springer Opera House, the awkward literary types in skinny ties, middle-aged women draped in long necklaces, book bags clutched on their laps. I’d left New York City for Columbus just a couple months ago and I was surprised—and relieved—to see this rare species, my species, out of hibernation for what was, admittedly, a rare occasion in Columbus. I hadn’t known they existed here until now.