From Publishers Weekly
War shows its human face in former Green Beret Barnes's mostly successful collection about veterans of Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Mogadishu and Iraq trying to get on with their civilian lives after experiencing the horrors of battle. In Punishment, a former army medic, counting down his last hours on death row (he killed a policeman), relives the time he saved the life of an enemy soldier during the Panama invasion. In the title story, a black Desert Storm veteran finds his ordinary existence turned upside down when the victims of a serial killer are found buried around his house. And in the novella, Snake Boy, a heroin-addicted, homeless Vietnam vet is kidnapped by a snake-handling evangelist who cures the vet of his addiction and forces him to join his traveling show. In several of the stories, the veteran angle seems peripheral, but the strongest pieces exemplify the words of one character who tells his daughter that all we can do is invent myths to smooth the harshness. The lives on display here do just that in stories told with understated compassion and unexpected flashes of humor. (Sept.)
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"In this well-formed, unified collection, the fault line between those who have served as soldiers and those who haven't is laid bare." Reno News & Review
War shows its human face in former Green Beret Barnes's mostly successful collection about veterans ... trying to get with their civilian lives after experiencing the horrors of battle. ... the strongest ieces exemplify the words of one character who tells his daughter that 'all we can do is invent myths to smooth the harshness.' The lives on display here do just that in stories told with understated compassiona and unexpected flashes of humor. Publishers Weekly, June 4, 2007
Brillian, beautifully rendered collection of short fiction. Aside from a compelling main character, each of the stories has an intriguing plot that hums along rapidly. ... My highest compliment: I didn't want the stories to end. The Veteran, Books in Review, March/April 2008.
Barnes already proved himself as one of today's best, and unjustly obscure, literary war writers. His 2000 debut collection, Gunning for Ho, pulled no punches in depicting the abject horror and black humor of armed conflct. ... You need to read and re-read every single story in Minimal Damage.... Barnes is a literary writer who works hard to defy expectations and avoid cliches. It's one of his great gifts as a storyteller. ... Minimal Damage hits the reader with maximum impact. Las Veags City Life, November 15, 2007