Ex-GI’s memoir named best book based on blog

**** NO SALES ****  An undated handout
An undated handout image of former U.S. soldier Colby Buzzell.AFP - Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

A former U.S. machine gunner’s irreverent memoir about his year fighting in Iraq has won the second annual prize for the best book based on a blog.

“My War: Killing Time in Iraq,” by Colby Buzzell was to receive the $10,000 Blooker prize on Monday, beating out 110 entries from 15 countries.

U.S. blogging queen Arianna Huffington, a Blooker judge, called Buzzell’s book “an unfiltered, often ferocious expression of his boots-on-the-ground view of the Iraq war.”

Buzzell, 31, said he would have never written the book had it not been for the encouragement from readers of the anonymous online journal he started in his free time in a war zone.

“I went into it without any aspirations,” he said Sunday before learning he had won. “It was just a way for me to deal with what I was going through.”

Buzzell blogged for eight weeks before the U.S. Army stopped him, enough time for book agents to start e-mailing him. His book has since been published by Penguin and translated into seven languages.

Immediacy and power
Some literary circles may look down on books that began as blogs, Buzzell said, but for an ordinary person who has a story to tell, blog writing can have unrivaled immediacy and power.

“I wrote that stuff right after events happened with my ears still ringing,” he said by telephone from his home in San Francisco.

Blooker organizer Peter Freedman said a growing number of publishers see the potential of blogs to be adapted into books, adding he was surprised at how many of this year’s nominations came from established publishing companies.

“Many of these bloggers come with a significant following,” Freedman said. “The Internet in a way is a part of a giant talent hunt for grass roots writers.”

The prize, which is sponsored by electronic book Web site Lulu.com, is in its second year. Last year’s winner “Julie and Julia” is being now adapted into a film by “When Harry Met Sally” director Nora Ephron.