A harrowing and powerful visualization of war’s aftermath.

No Peace After War


St. Hilaire’s (Inseparable, 2015) 26 short stories and poems voice the individual agonies of soldiers and those who love them.

Dedicated to members of the armed forces, particularly those who suffer from PTSD or have committed suicide after returning home, the collection presents powerful testimony that war wounds run deep, fester, and remain—whether or not they are shared with others. Although the author offers these tales of trauma as a means of honoring service and lessening suffering, she understands the high stakes. A list of toll-free numbers for suicide prevention organizations and veterans’ groups appears at the end of the book. One strength here is an awareness of the limits of storytelling. Sometimes, despite a ready listener, soldiers refuse to recall their experiences. “I don’t owe you a story,” says a man who prefers to keep his time overseas private. Several tales reveal the irony of giving all to one’s country and then finding more loss and loneliness at home. We learn about psychological struggles, divorce, anger, unpaid bills, and extreme loneliness. The sense of abandonment resonates most powerfully in the first story, narrated by an injured soldier trapped in a cave. He faces a sheer, insurmountable slope of rock and can hear comrades debate his position, but they seem at first disbelieving and then unwilling to help. His position is bleak. As day turns to night, the darkness in the cave expands. An active nightmare scene ensues. The poems are less successful than the stories, as they deal in worn-out tropes. In “Honor,” for example, awkward syntax dilutes what should be a provocative subject: “ ‘To serve with honor’ is a phrase oft spoken, / Repeated over like a record broken.” The last story effectively emphasizes the worth of serving one’s country, but another reality hits hard too, with appropriately strong diction. Every “motherfucking thing on this earth,” a soldier swears, has its breaking point.

A harrowing and powerful visualization of war’s aftermath.

Pub Date: April 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5306-1777-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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