Tag Archives: Iraq War

Book Review: The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (Little, Brown; 240 pages; $24.99).

                Few fiction authors have tackled the subject of the Iraq War; most of those have been published only within the past year: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, Fobbit by David Abrams, and The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.  All are written from a soldier’s perspective.  While Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Fobbit are satirical, The Yellow Birds is intense and somber.  Perhaps there is a reason for that; Powers was the only one to see real combat in Iraq.

Powers enlisted in the army when he was only 17, later serving as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq, in 2004 and 2005.  He knows firsthand the horrors of war, and that knowledge is what makes his book stand apart from the rest.  The Yellow Birds is achingly real and passionate.

“The [Iraq] war had tried its best to kill us all: man, woman, [and] child,” Powers writes in his powerful debut, The Yellow Birds.  “But it had killed fewer than a thousand soldiers like me and Murph.  Those numbers still meant something to us as what passed for fall began…We didn’t want to be the thousandth killed.  If we died later, then we died.  But let that number be someone else’s milestone.”

The Yellow Birds is written from the perspective of 21-year-old Private John Bartle.  Powers structures the novel back and forth through time in alternating chapters from 2003 to 2009.  He tells us early on that a main character dies and dies shockingly.  The many plot twists Powers employs makes this a truly compelling and intense read.

Bartle represents the countless numbers of American youth sent to far-flung places whose names they cannot even spell or pronounce correctly.  Far from home, these young men and women form bonds quickly.  Such is the case for Bartle and 18-year-old Private Daniel Murphy.

The two young recruits meet during basic training and quickly become friends.  Sergeant Sterling, barely older than Bartle at 24, tells Murph to stick close to Bartle.  “All right, little man,” he says, “I want you to get in Bartle’s back pocket and I want you to stay there.”  The bond is further sealed when Bartle promises Murph’s mother that he will look out for her son.  This vow will weigh heavily on Bartle as they fight in Iraq.

When Powers shifts the action once again to Iraq, he illustrates the deep emotional toll that the war has inflicted on the soldiers.  Bartle and Murph are brothers in arms, praying not to get killed, praying it is someone else.  They keep track of the casualty list as it slowly creeps upward toward 1,000: “We didn’t know the list was limitless.  We didn’t think beyond a thousand.  We never considered that we could be among the walking dead as well.”

There are two warzones in The Yellow Birds: the war in Iraq and the war at home, a fight just as tough as the real conflict.  When a soldier leaves Iraq, he truly trades one battle for another.  With Bartle, Powers explores the difficulty of readjusting to life as a civilian: “What now?” and “Instead of a slug, give her a hug.”

Even seemingly small things take Bartle back to Iraq.  “The yelp of dogs echoing out from where they rolled in wet garbage in the shadow of the Shamash Gate,” Powers writes.  “If I heard the caw of ugly crows swing down from the power line that they adorned in black simplicity, the caw might strike in perfect harmony with the memory of the sound of falling mortars, and I, at home now, might brace for the impact….”

How to turn off that kill-or-be-killed mentality that all soldiers must have to survive is a recurring theme in The Yellow Birds.  The things Bartle saw and did haunt him.  Through his character, Powers allows us to see the high cost of war for both combat veterans and their families.  Because they think no one else understands, many vets turn to violence, alcohol, and even suicide.  In Powers’ hands, the many struggles of vets come to life.

With The Yellow Birds, Powers does something Abrams and Fountain could not.  He turns the brutal language of war into something lyrical.  “The war tried to kill us in the spring,” the author writes.  “As grass greened the plains of Nineveh and the weather warmed, we patrolled the low-slung hills beyond the cities and towns.  We moved over them and through the tall grass on faith, kneading paths into the windswept growth like pioneers.”  While Bartle and his fellow soldiers slept, “the war rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer.  When we pressed onward through exhaustion, its eyes were white and open in the dark.  While we ate, the war fasted, fed by its own deprivation.  It made love and gave birth and spread through fire.”

Powers was nominated for a National Book Award in Fiction for The Yellow Birds; however, Louise Erdrich took home the award for The Round House.  The Yellow Birds is unlike other Iraq War novels.  Powers actually fought in combat so he knows his stuff.  This is fiction, but there are kernels of truth within these pages.  He drives home the point that the War in Iraq has irrevocably changed a whole generation and our country will not ever be the same.

The Yellow Birds is penetrating, poignant, and deeply personal for Powers.  I can’t stop thinking about Bartle and Murph.  This is the debut of the year.

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Spotlight on The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

The Yellow Birds has been heralded as “a war novel written by a veteran of Iraq, The Yellow Birds is the harrowing story of two soldiers trying to stay alive in the most unforgiving of landscapes.” (from the jacket copy)

 

Recently, Powers was nominated for a National Book Award in fiction for his debut.

I am about to begin reading this novel. The following comes from the jacket copy:

“‘The war tried to kill us in the spring,’ begins this breathtaking account of friendship and loss.  In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year-old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city.  In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger.

Bound together since basic training, when their tough-as-nails sergeant ordered Bartle to watch over Murphy, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for.  As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him, and Bartle takes impossible actions.

With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a distant war on mothers and families at home, The Yellow Birds captures the almost unimaginable costs of war in language that is precise and truthful.  It is destined to become a classic.

Kevin Powers joined the army at the age of seventeen and served as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq, in 2004 and 2005. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008 and is a Michener Fellow in Poetry at the University of Texas at Austin.”

Powers knows war, and this could just take home a National Book Award in fiction.

 

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September Fiction

It’s been said that the best books come out in the fall.  That time is just around the corner.  September fiction has some heavy hitters.  I have tried hard to narrow down my picks to ten.  These are, in my opinion, the best novels out in September.  Happy reading!

A novel that is out now is Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist, “set in the untamed American West, a highly original and haunting debut novel about a makeshift family whose dramatic lives are shaped by violence, love, and an indelible connection to the land.”  September 4 is the publication date for Ilie Ruby’s The Salt God’s Daughter.

“Set in Long Beach, California, beginning in the 1970s, The Salt God’s Daughter follows Ruthie and her older sister Dolly as they struggle for survival in a place governed by an enchanted ocean and exotic folklore.  Guided by a mother ruled by magical, elaborately-told stories of the full moons, which she draws from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the two girls are often homeless, often on their own, fiercely protective of each other, and unaware of how far they have drifted from traditional society as they carve a real life from their imagined stories.”

The incomparable Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth and On Beauty, has a new novel, NW, coming out September 4.


“This is the story of a city.

The northwest corner of a city. Here you’ll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all.  And many people in between.

Every city is like this. Cheek-by-jowl living. Separate worlds.

And then there are the visitations: the rare times a stranger crosses a threshold without permission or warning, causing a disruption in the whole system. Like the April afternoon a woman came to Leah Hanwell’s door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, forcing Leah out of her isolation…

Zadie Smith’s brilliant tragi-comic new novel follows four Londoners – Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end.

Depicting the modern urban zone – familiar to town-dwellers everywhere – Zadie Smith’s NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.”

Perhaps one of fall’s biggest books also comes out September 4.  It is Lance Weller’s debut novel, Wilderness, a story that has been compared to Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain.

“In its contrasts of light and dark, wild and tame, brutal and tender, and its attempts to reconcile a horrific war with the great evil it ended, Wilderness not only tells the moving tale of an unforgettable character, but a story about who we are as human beings, a people, and a nation.  Lance Weller’s immensely impressive debut immediately places him among our most talented writers.”

September 4 also marks the publication date for Lawrence Norfolk’s John Saturnall’s Feast.

“A beautiful, rich and sensuous historical novel, John Saturnall’s Feast tells the story of a young orphan who becomes a kitchen boy at a manor house, and rises through the ranks to become the greatest Cook of his generation. It is a story of food, star-crossed lovers, ancient myths and one boy’s rise from outcast to hero.”

Tatjana Soli’s second novel, The Forgetting Tree, will be released September 4.  Soli’s bestselling debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, was a New York Times Notable Book, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction, and won the James Tait Black Prize. 

“Now, with her new novel, The Forgetting Tree, Tatjana delivers a breathtaking story about a complicated California ranch family struggling to find peace in the aftermath of a tragedy.  Haunting, triumphant, and profound, The Forgetting Tree proves that Tatjana Soli is an author readers will remember for a long time to come.”

Little, Brown and Company will publish The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers on September 6.  Powers is a veteran of the Iraq War. 

“With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a distant war on mothers and families at home, The Yellow Birds captures the almost unimaginable costs of war in language that is precise and truthful.  It is destined to become a classic.”

The Malice of Fortune by Michael Ennis will be released September 11.  “Behold, a tantalizing meeting of the minds: Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘science of observation’ and Niccolo Machiavelli’s ‘science of men.’  But is their brilliance enough to unmask an enigmatic serial killer?  The answer lies within…and the secret history of The Prince is revealed at last.”

September 17 is the release date for The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen.

Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus, has praised Jakobsen’s novel: “The best stories change you. I am not the same after The Vanishing Act as I was before.”  I trust Morgenstern implicitly, and her endorsement works for me.

T.C. Boyle’s new novel, San Miguel, comes out September 18.  “On a tiny, desolate, windswept island off the coast of Southern California, two families, one in the 1880s and one in the 1930s, come to start new lives and pursue dreams of self-reliance and freedom.  Their extraordinary stories, full of struggle and hope, are the subject of T.C. Boyle’s haunting new novel.”

I think we’re all going to be doing a lot of reading this month!

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Book Review: The World Without You by Joshua Henkin

The World Without You by Joshua Henkin (Pantheon; 336 pages; $25.95).

 

            Marilyn and David Frankel, loving parents to four adult children, are living their worst nightmare in Joshua Henkin’s new novel The World Without You.  Their son, Leo, a journalist, was captured in Iraq, accused of being a U.S. agent, paraded before cameras, and executed on July 4, 2004.  It was almost too much for his family to bear.

President George W. Bush only made matters worse when he called Leo an ally in the war against terror.  Marilyn wants to “spit on Bush.”  “The nerve of that man,” she says, “to claim my son as his ally.”  Leo “hated that war” and was never “political.”  Leo’s parents still struggle one year later as the whole family reunites for his memorial service.

Leo’s death threatens to tear his family apart.  Marilyn and David’s forty-two-year marriage is on the verge of collapse.  They no longer talk like they once did.  Marilyn channels all of her grief and rage into anti-war op-ed pieces she writes for newspapers.  They tell their remaining children (Clarissa, Lily, and Noelle) they plan to separate.  Marilyn tries to explain their reasons for splitting up: “We lost our son.”  Leo’s death, Marilyn says, “ruined” them.  The more Marilyn vocalizes her grief, the more silent David becomes.  He stages a “mute protest” and furiously prepares their vacation home for its eventual sale after their divorce.

The Frankel sisters are having a difficult time themselves.  Eldest daughter Clarissa desperately wants a baby, but conception is proving difficult.  Throughout the story, Clarissa remembers holding Leo when he was an infant.  She thought of herself as “Leo’s second mother.”  “In a lot of ways,” Clarissa reveals, “I thought of myself as his first mother.”  Not until his death did she truly want a child; now, it may be too late.

Lily, the second sister, has been with her boyfriend for over a decade.  They are happily unmarried and childless, although everyone has a hard time accepting this fact.  Her father asks Lily about it and she tells him that if she and Malcolm “were to have children, we probably would be married, just because it would be easier on them if we did.”  For Lily, if it happens, it happens.

Noelle is Leo’s third and least likeable sister.  Noelle, former wild child, became an Orthodox Jew and moved to Israel with her husband, Amram.  They have four sons.  Amram recently lost his job.  The constraints of their religion threaten their marriage.  Noelle seems uncertain who she is anymore and who she wants to become.  Amram disappears after an argument, and his absence weighs heavily on Noelle and her sons.  One of the boys forgets his toilet training.  It all becomes too much for her: “It’s Amram’s fault, yet it’s her fault, too; she might as well not be able to keep her own bladder in check.  Sleeping with whatever boy came her way.  What good is her newfound modesty when she can’t control things any more than she ever could?”  Noelle cannot “control her husband and she can’t control her children, and what good is she if she can’t do that?”

Thisbe, Leo’s widow and the mother of his son, also attends the memorial service.  She is a graduate student in California.  During her visit, Thisbe struggles with two secrets of her own.  She tries to navigate the choppy waters of a family she married into but no longer feels a part.  Thisbe felt like being in the presence of the Frankels was like “being swallowed by a many-tentacled beast and made into a tentacle” herself.  When she and Leo married, Thisbe thought his sisters became hers.  When Leo died, Thisbe felt like she experienced a two-fold loss: her husband and her newly-acquired sisters.

The Frankels truly are a bereft, heartbroken family.  The passage of time has not healed their wounds.  There is a gulf between family members, and this chasm is ever-widening.

Henkin’s narrative underscores how loss makes people do strange things.  Each person experiences grief in his or her own individual way.  A grief manual for dummies does not exist.  Henkin ably illustrates how Leo’s death affects his parents, his sisters, his wife, and others around him.  The themes Henkin focuses on in his story are universal ones, such as love, loss, war, redemption, and forgiveness.  Henkin ably tells the story from many different perspectives, allowing the reader to understand one person’s grief process is distinct from another’s.  There is strong anti-war sentiment to this family’s heartwrenching tale.

Marilyn, especially, is vitriolic against Bush and blames him for her son’s death.  Through Marilyn, Henkin shows the depth of a mother’s love for her son, the bonds mother and child share, and how her whole world has crumbled.  For her, life without Leo is bleak.

The gloom in this novel is as thick as New England fog or cloud cover: “It’s like we’re going through this cloud cover, and then there’s more cloud cover and more cloud cover and it never stops.”  Despite the dark climate of Henkin’s story, there is always hope.  That hope comes in the guise of Leo’s 94-year-old grandmother.

The World Without You is a tension-filled, character-driven account of the downward spiral of an American family.  Just when things seem darkest, though, sometimes a ray of sunlight shines through the storm clouds.  Henkin’s story will engage you.  His characters will linger long after you finish the novel.  What’s more, his story will force you to put yourself and your family in the Frankel’s place.  How would you react to such tragedy?  How would you cope?  I daresay everyone would unravel.  Everyone would come apart at the seams.  That makes the Frankels and Henkin’s story very real.

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Spotlight on The World Without You

Today is the publication day for Joshua Henkin’s latest novel The World Without You.

 I read, make that devoured, this book Saturday night and loved every minute of it.  So will you!

Henkin’s themes are universal: love, loss, forgiveness, and redemption, along with a strong anti-war sentiment.  At its heart, the story is about a family coping with grief.  Each family member handles the death of Leo in his or her own, individual way.  There is no manual for dummies on how to deal with something like this.

The World Without You is my pick of the week.  I urge you to pick this one up and read it.  I am certain you will grow to feel part of the Frankel family, just like I did.

I will be reviewing the novel tomorrow so stay tuned for my review!

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Thanks for Your Service!

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (Ecco; 320 pages; $25.99).

 

            Good literature should test our limits and push our boundaries.  The best novels should force us as readers out of our comfort zones.  If those novels feature touchy subjects, then bravo!  Novelists should never shy away from any issue, no matter how much the topic makes readers or critics uncomfortable.  How better to ponder life’s big questions than in the pages of a book?  The novels that focus on The Way We Live Now and even The Meaning of Life are the precise ones that stay with us because they are so memorable.  For the rest of our lives, we remember what it was like to read them for the first time and the countless times after.  The best authors take risks and are not afraid of the repercussions.  Take John Steinbeck, Kate Chopin, Yann Martel, Toni Morrison, Kathryn Stockett, Ernest Hemingway, and Margaret Atwood, just to name a few.

That is what Ben Fountain does in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a novel that satirizes warfare, football, and pop culture.  Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a literary tour-de-force and a modern-day Catch-22.  Not only is the story an entertaining, laugh-out-loud satire, but it is also well-written and brilliant.  However, as much as I loved it, I do not think Fountain’s novel is for everyone.

Fountain’s story takes place during a single day, over the span of a few hours.  It is Thanksgiving Day of an unnamed year in George W. Bush’s presidency.  The main character is Billy Lynn; Fountain tells the story from Billy’s point of view, often using strange bits of streams of consciousness and flashbacks.  Billy is one of eight members of Bravo Squad who survived the Battle of Al-Ansakar Canal, a fictional skirmish in the Iraq War.  Since a Fox News crew was embedded with the soldiers, the whole thing went live on television; Americans were glued to their TVs.  The Bravos became instant heroes and instant celebrities, even though they are ready for neither.

At nineteen, Billy is clueless: “Self-confidence has been a struggle these past two weeks, this sense of treating water way over his head.  He’s too young.  He doesn’t know enough.”  The reader cannot help but feel for Billy and for the rest of his squad.  They were only doing their jobs and do not see themselves as heroes.  For them, it is literally kill or be killed.

In a hilarious propaganda-like maneuver, the Bush administration brings Bravo Squad home for a victory tour.  Their stops are all in key swing-states for the Republicans.  Everyone wants to shake each Bravo’s hand, get autographs, and take pictures with the boys.  “As one trembly old guy in Cleveland” puts it, “Yew ARE America.”

The Bravos participate in an extravagant halftime show at the now-defunct Texas Stadium in a Thanksgiving Day game between the Cowboys and the Chicago Bears.  Destiny’s Child is scheduled to perform.  The Bravos are psyched at the prospect of meeting and greeting Destiny’s Child and the Cowboys.

As Fountain writes, “This is the undeniable big-time, there is no greater sports event in the world today and Bravo is smack in the frothy middle of it…deep within the sheltering womb of all things American—football, Thanksgiving, [and] television.”

Are they being used?  Of course they are.  But the kicker is they know it: “Of course they do, manipulation is their air and element, for what is a soldier’s job but to be the pawn of higher?  Wear this, say that, go there, shoot them, then of course there’s the final and ultimate, be killed.”

The “party” cannot continue indefinitely.  In two days, the squad heads back to Iraq.  Unfinished business hangs over their heads, though.  Hollywood wants to make a movie of Bravo’s bravery.  The squad thinks big bucks are in their future.  For the duration of their victory tour, Albert, a Hollywood producer, has been on them like bees to honey.  Albert “is a man who direct-dials the likes of Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones and whose movies have featured such money stars as Ben Affleck, Cameron Diaz, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, [and] two of the four Baldwin brothers.”  In other words, he is a mover and a shaker.

Albert believes in the film and in Bravo’s story.  So does actress Hilary Swank.  She wants to play one of the male roles in the film or even consolidate two soldiers into one character.  Bravo is not happy about this.  Not all of Hollywood is as enthused as Albert and Hilary.  Tom Hanks and Ron Howard have backed out.  George Clooney is a “maybe” and then a “no.”

Billy learns it is a Catch-22.  A star cannot commit to the picture until a major studio is on board.  Then again, a major studio will not give the green light unless a star is attached to the movie.  It is a paradox, “so perfect, so completely circular in the modern way” that all of Bravo “can identify.”

Fountain does a superb and funny job of spoofing Hollywood and movies.  But he does not stop there.  Fountain draws comparisons between the culture of warfare and the culture of football.  His assessment is interesting and surprisingly apt.  When the Bravos visit the Cowboys’ locker room, even they are intimidated.  “The players,” Fountain describes, “seem so much more martial than any Bravo.  They are bigger, stronger, thicker, badder, their truck-sized chins could bulldoze small buildings and their thighs bulge like load-bearing beams.”  The players crank Testosterone, “their warrior aura ramps up exponentially as they assemble themselves for the game.”

The players’ gear fills Billy with “shock and awe.”  When the team travels, loading and transporting their gear is akin to loading and transporting soldiers’ gear.  The support the players’ receive flabbergasts Billy.  The players “are among the best-cared-for creatures in the history of the planet, beneficiaries of the best nutrition, the latest technologies, the finest medical care, they live at the very pinnacle of American innovation and abundance.”  Billy arrives at a thought, “Send them to fight the war!  Send them just as they are this moment, well rested, suited up, psyched for brutal combat, send the entire NFL!  Attack with all our bears and raiders, our ferocious redskins, our jets, eagles, falcons, chiefs, patriots, cowboys–how could a bunch of skinny hajjis in man-skirts and sandals stand a chance against these all-Americans?”

As if reading Billy’s thoughts, several players are very curious about Iraq.  “Huh, fah real doe.  But like you ever cap somebody you know of?  Like, fire yo’ piece and dey go down, you done that?”  The players want to know what it is like to kill.   One of the players takes Billy to the side, “We, like, we wanna do somethin’ like you.  Extreme, you know, cap some Muslim freaks, you think they let us do that?  Like we ride wit yall for a week, couple weeks, help out.”  When Billy tells them to enlist in the Army, the players laugh at him.  They have a real job, they tell him.  Fountain truly is at his best here in his fine use of satire.

As much as I love this novel, I feel it is not a book for everyone.  Those with loved ones serving in the armed forces may feel offended.  You see, it is one thing to make fun of governments, administrations, Hollywood, football, and popular culture.  But it is quite something else to satirize wars in which people die.

I also fear that Fountain ridicules the troops.  In his book, the members of Bravo are often inebriated, stoned, sex-crazed, and vulgar to the point of profane.  Many, like Billy, are delinquents.  Billy is serving in the army to escape jail-time.  While his cause was noble, it was still illegal.  Billy is not the only person in his squad on the wrong path.  Perhaps Fountain writes it this way to show how the Army can make boys into men.  At least I hope that is his intention.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is not all spoof.  Fountain manages to give us some very serious and somber instances as well. Bravo attends the funeral of a fellow soldier and deals with protestors.  A member of their squad loses his legs.  Billy’s sister worries he will be killed and urges him to run away and hide out.  A waiter at the game thinks of joining the Army for the signing bonus since he cannot support his family.

Perhaps the most sobering of all: Billy and his unit worry they will not make it back home after their next deployment.   This is the best piece of literature on the Iraq War.  Yes, it did offend me at times but that is just the very nature of warfare.  It isn’t pretty nor is it neat and flowery.  If war literature should always be gritty, real, and memorable, then Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk is all these things and more.

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Spotlight on Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

I began reading Ben Fountain’s novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk on Memorial Day.  I would say it was an apt time to read this book. 

Fountain sets the story on Thanksgiving when the surviving heroes of Bravo company participate in the halftime show of a Cowboys game.  Billy Lynn is in the center of it all.  Think of him as the quarterback of this game.

There is lots of comedy here.  Fountain also manages to give us some sober truths, too, about war, coming of age, and life.

The novel satirizes the Iraq War as well as our culture of war.  Fountain even compares our culture of war to the culture of football.  And he’s right.  Fountain’s brilliance really shines here.

But I have mixed feelings about this book.  Is he also satirizing our soldiers?  Because, at times, it seems he is.  I will delve deeper into this in my review.  But, as the daughter of a veteran, granddaughter of a veteran, cousin of someone who served in Iraq, I cannot help but wonder what our soldiers and their families think of this novel.

Great literature should push our limits.  For me, that is what Fountain does.  I love it, but, at times, I’m disturbed.  If you have read this book, did any of you feel this way?

 

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