Breakfast with the Dirt Cult
Author: Samuel Finlay
Publisher: The Red Dirt Syndicate (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 318 pages
Breakfast with the Dirt Cult reads like a memoir of Samuel Finlay, the author. The unrestrained behavior and vulgar language often masked the insight beginning to emerge.
Three storylines vacillate between an untamed soldier, a blossoming love affair with a wholesome stripper, and a very thoughtful and philosophical young man. After the soldier’s tragic injury, he fights for his healing and transcendence from the dirt cult, or at least an acceptance.
“The circle of missions, training, and fighting boredom began growing like a tumor in Second Platoon. Then one day, the hammer dropped.” Finley portrays colorful language doused with emotional outbursts only a soldier could come up with. The reader will encounter embedded snips of reflection amidst the mundane life in a quasi battlefield with horrific consequences. Some soldiers died, but most were wounded physically, emotionally, and/or morally.
The reflective soldier caught between the gun and the soul of things emerges from the wounds of war. He knows too much for a junior enlisted, but he struggles to rise above his predicament. “The last thing he felt before sleep embraced him was loneliness.” (p. 135) He later exquisitely writes, “The desert mesmerized Walton… It had a gravity that tugged you gently but relentlessly toward the Holy Point… with the slow inevitability of destiny.”
The inner thoughts of an infantryman are shown to color the rest of his world with an uncontrollable prism of emotions and thoughts. As the soldier became more crass, disillusioned, stripped, hardened, and poisoned by war, the insights, beauty and thoughtfulness sprout from the dirt, spittle and blood of the Afghan desert.
His writing has moments that are brilliant, surreal, humorously constipated, tender, revengeful or excruciatingly painful. On page 238 he reflects, “No matter how righteous the cause, how important the need for justice, or how glorious the triumphs, modern war meant children being broken and killed. And there was no way to protect them all.”
Samuel Finlay is a raw and gifted writer with an incredible resource of literature within his grasp. Many of his thoughts are spot on and challenging. Contemplating the Afghans he writes unabashedly:
Still though, the sight of them left him wondering what it was that they had bought. No doubt they had fought for their buddies and their platoons the same as him. Battles were sacred, and they belonged to those who’d fought them. However, they had bled in those battles as the result of orders that ultimately had trickled down from on high. In the grand scheme of things, what was the significance of what went on downrange? What did it all mean?
Reviewed by: Ron Camarda(2014)
"I'm going to make a pinkie-swear with you right here and now, Tom Walton; when, not if, you return from Afghanistan, you must come up here and I will have a mad passionate affair with you..." With this proposal, Thomas Walton, an infantry soldier in Alpha Company, Second Platoon, arrives at the threshold of events that will change his life forever. Breakfast with the Dirt Cult chronicles the days of love and war in the life of Tom Walton. Torn between a beautiful, bibliophilic, Canadian ex-stripper and the hunt for Al-Qaeda in the mountains of Afghanistan, Walton finds himself forced to grapple with being a young man in the days of modernity. While Breakfast with the Dirt Cult has been written as a novel, it is based on a true story. The names have been changed and the chronology has been condensed for the sake of editing.