THE CADILLAC OF SIX-BY'S by Reverge Anselmo


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 Anselmo debuts with an almost existential take on the quotidian stress endured by US Marines in strife-torn Lebanon when they were deployed there on a disastrous peace-keeping mission in the early '80s. At the heart of the spare narrative (whose characters have neither first names nor defining pasts) is Cazetti, a free-spirited corporal working as a combat photographer (a.k.a. duty-flick) for an intelligence unit. Although based in the trench community ringing Beirut's seaside airport, he and his superiors spend a lot of their time in the hostile interior trying to make sense of the local militias (Amal, Druze, Mourabitoune, Phalangist, et al.) that have been assaulting one another in the wake of an invasion mounted by Israel to purge its Arab neighbor of the PLO. When a shifty warlord in the pay of S-2 is unable to provide authoritative information on the intentions of regional forces, the randy French- speaking Cazetti is dispatched to a mountainside monastery to observe and record troop movements. On this post, he makes a determined pass at a lovely young nun who spurns him and vows to pray for him. The unrepentant two-striper returns to his buddies and winds up in a drunken brawl that costs him 30 days in an offshore brig and a bust to private. Back from his shipboard sojourn, Cazetti reports to a new captain who assigns him to a line company. Having survived a couple of inauspicious firefights, he's summoned back to his intelligence outfit in time for a climactic offensive. Cazetti goes down for the last time at the height of a mortar barrage on leatherneck positions. Though flawed by the author's I-am-a-camera approach to storytelling, this short tale of Cazetti's final post provides a vivid grunt's-eye view of what it's like to be caught in the crossfire of battlefields far from home.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-101209-2
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1997