REDEPLOYMENT by Phil Klay
Kirkus Star

REDEPLOYMENT

KIRKUS REVIEW

A sharp set of stories, the author's debut, about U.S. soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their aftermaths, with violence and gallows humor dealt out in equal measure.

Klay is a Marine veteran who served in Iraq, and the 12 stories reveal a deep understanding of the tedium, chaos and bloodshed of war, as well as the emotional disorientation that comes with returning home from it. But in the spirit of the best nonfiction writing about recent U.S. war vets (David Finkel’s Thank You For Your Service, for example), Klay eschews simple redemptive or tragic narrative arcs. The discomfiting “Bodies” is narrated by a Mortuary Affairs officer whose treatment of women back home is almost as equally coldhearted as he had to be when collecting remains, while “Prayer in the Furnace” is told from the perspective of a chaplain forced to confront a battalion that’s been bullied into a hyperviolent posture. Klay favors a clipped, dialogue-heavy style, and he’s skilled enough to use it for comic as well as dramatic effect. “OIF,” for instance, is a vignette that riffs on the military’s alphabet soup of acronyms and how they emotionally paper over war’s toll. (“And even though J-15 left his legs behind, at least he got CASEVAC’d to the SSTP and died on the table.”) The finest story in the collection, “Money as a Weapons System,” follows a Foreign Service Officer tasked with helping with reconstruction efforts in Iraq. His grand ambition to reopen a water treatment plant is slowly undone by incompetence, internecine squabbling and a congressman’s buddy who thinks there’s no problem in Iraq that teaching kids baseball won’t fix; Klay’s grasp of bureaucracy and bitter irony here rivals Joseph Heller and George Orwell. The narrators sound oddly similar throughout the book, as if the military snapped everybody into one world-wise voice. But it does make the book feel unusually cohesive for a debut collection.

A no-nonsense and informed reckoning with combat.

Pub Date: March 4th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59420-499-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2014




BEST DEBUT FICTION OF 2014:

FictionTHE MINIATURIST by Jessie Burton
by Jessie Burton
FictionA BRAVE MAN SEVEN STOREYS TALL by Will Chancellor
by Will Chancellor
FictionWOLF IN WHITE VAN by John Darnielle
by John Darnielle
FictionTHE WILDS by Julia Elliott
by Julia Elliott
FictionAN UNTAMED STATE by Roxane Gay
by Roxane Gay
FictionTHE WORD EXCHANGE by Alena Graedon
by Alena Graedon

OUR CRITICS' TAKES ON MORE BESTSELLERS

See full list >
Cover art for H IS FOR HAWK
VERDICT:
BUY IT
Cover art for THE WHITES
VERDICT:
BUY IT
Cover art for THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for THE DUFF
VERDICT:
BUY IT

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionFULL MEASURE by T. Jefferson Parker
by T. Jefferson Parker
NonfictionTHANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE by David Finkel
by David Finkel
FictionBILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK by Ben Fountain
by Ben Fountain