Thursday, November 6, 2014

Redeployment by Phil Klay

Emotional but not overly sentimental, this timely debut short story collection from Klay, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served as a Public Affairs Officer in Iraq, touches upon the issues most paramount to our current war: PTSD, suicide rates attempts among vets, children in the crossfires, war crimes, the Islam religion and more.

Here is a sampling of what readers can expect from this heartrending collection: In “Redeployment” a veteran returns to the dog who has aged significantly during his tour of duty, so instead of taking him to the veterinarian to be euthanized, he takes the responsibility in his own hands to show his dog a kindness in death. A Mortuary Affairs marine, who collects human remains returns home to the only stability he remembers, his former girlfriend, who has grown distant, is chronicled in “Bodies.”

“Money as Weapons System” tells the story of a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) foreign service officer who attempts to rebuild a failed water system, but violence, the enemy and a mattress salesman with a political agenda who insists that baseball uniforms will change culture and change war all stand in the way, making the pursuit futile. “Prayer in the Furnace” offers the perspective of a military chaplain dealing with helping those who have hinted at war crimes and the emotional aftermath of killing civilians.

A PsyOps vet at Amherst College offends a girl on campus who is a recently converted Muslim, but the two share their stories in hopes of a coming to an understanding. They both learn about being treated as they are are seen and the unfortunate result of perception becoming reality in “Psychological Operations.”

A 2014 National Book Award finalist, Redeployment is at turns grim and harrowing, but also shares a singular message that offers a small sense of hope in the bedlam that is war: we are united as a family, as brothers in combat and as a country. We are never alone. This book is highly recommended to vets, civilians, and those with loved ones in the military, as it provides the truth of the unspoken events suffered in the fight for freedom.

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