John Camp Reporting Again — From Iraq

John Camp, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning St. Paul journalist and crime novelist, is in Iraq for MinnPost.com. It’s a fascinating thing for Camp to do, and a smart way for MinnPost to raise its profile. His first story from Iraq appears today.

In a Q&A on the site, Camp says he’s going for journalistic reasons, not gathering material for his crime fiction (the hugely successful “Prey” series, written under the name John Sandford). But here’s a guy who’s been writing hard-boiled crime-and-shooting stuff for years going into a war zone. It shows the journalist’s attraction, almost lust, for going where things are happening. I had it when I was a reporter, flying into a Miami when a major hurricane was about to hit, when the rest of the population was flying out. What the hell was I doing?

Camp wants to grab the experience of Minnesota National Guard members — the mundane and the terrifying. In the Q&A, he said, “After reading Iraq war stories for several years, I really, in my mind’s eye, don’t know what it looks like, or smells like, or sounds like; or really, what an infantryman does now.” He has an idea to take a single soldier and describe everything he carries or wears, from the skin out. That’s a novelist going for detail — it’s something a TV journalist might do, but Camp will try it with his laptop.

The trip will likely energize Camp, who served in the military in Korea in the 1960s, and I expect to read good stuff. And kudos to MinnPost.com for putting this together. It’s creative, and a straight shot of what MinnPost is trying to offer — smart insightful writing that turns experienced journalists loose to give us personal views of what they’re finding out in the world.

— Bruce Benidt tax relief kind