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Is Phil Klay's debut short story collection the best book about the Iraq War? --Kevin Nguyen
“Success was a matter of perspective. In Iraq it had to be.” This opening line, from one of the stories in Phil Klay's impressive debut collection, Redeployment, encapsulates what the book does best: through the many viewpoints represented by his twelve stories, Klay gives us not just a gripping portrait of the Iraq War but a glimpse into the true human cost of war, abroad and at home.
Though the United States entered Afghanistan and Iraq over a decade ago, novels about those conflicts have only begun gaining critical and commercial attention in the past few years. Kevin Powers's The Yellow Birds, was one of the most talked about books of 2012; the same year, Ben Fountain's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Both books were finalists for the National Book Award and included in our own Best of the Year list.
Powers and Fountain took very different approaches to the Iraq War. The Yellow Birds is a moving, often lyrical story that follows the tradition of in-the-trenches war fiction, taking hints from such classics as The Things They Carried all the way back to All Quiet on the Western Front (Powers is a veteran who received his MFA after returning to the U.S.); in contrast, Billy Lynn is more of a satire, taking place on home turf as the surviving members of Bravo Squad are paraded out during the halftime show of a Dallas Cowboys game.
Tonally and thematically, Redeployment falls somewhere in between these two novels. In its diversity of viewpoints, Klay has composed a complicated portrait of the war and its psychological effect on Iraq and at home in the States. Like Yellow Birds, these stories are moving and subtly philosophical; like Billy Lynn, Redeployment isn't afraid to be funny, to be brash.
Read the full review on Omnivoracious.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2014: I defy any readers of Phil Klay’s stunning Redeployment to a) put it down and b) limit the number of “wows” they utter while reading it. These twelve stories, are all about the Iraq War or its aftermath; they are so direct, so frank, they will impress readers who have read all they care to about the war as well as those who thought they couldn’t stand to read about it at all. The strength of Klay’s stories lies in his unflinching, un-PC point of view, even for the soldiers he so clearly identifies with and admires. For example, one veteran tells a guy in a bar about a particularly harrowing war experience. When the stranger, moved, declares his respect for our troops, the soldier responds, “I don’t want you to respect what I’ve been through. I want you to be disgusted.” Klay is fearless; he eviscerates platitude and knee-jerk politics every chance he gets. “[A fellow soldier] was the one guy in the squad who thought the country wouldn’t be better off if we just nuked it until the desert turned into a flat plane of grass,” he writes. These stories are at least partly autobiographical, and yet, for all their verisimilitude, they’re also shaped by an undefinable thing called art. Phil Klay is a writer to watch. --Sara Nelson
One thing is for certain - this book will change you in important ways.
A beautifully written collection of stories that takes the reader into the minds and hearts of the brave and exquisitely human Marines fighting the Iraq war.
Way too much jargon, bristling with acronyms, and no glossary or notes that I could find.
"It’s not that there’s one thing I want people to understand about this war so much as I want people engaged with it. If you’re an American citizen, it’s your war. Read morePublished 11 hours ago by Genevieve DeGuzman
Richard Wright showed me the heart and soul of a young black man. Phil Klay gave me the heart and soul of a Marine at war. Read morePublished 17 hours ago by Robin L. Perin
Maybe it's me, but after about four stories, most of them started to seem like minor variations of all the rest of them. Read morePublished 1 day ago by H. Waters
2014's National Book Award winner certainly deserved the recognition. Klay's book of short stories explored, with various narrators and scenarios, some the horrors, atrocities,... Read morePublished 2 days ago by novelcommentary
I had high hopes for this book, as someone who was a sailor myself. I think it is written in a style befitting to stories about the military, but often depends too heavily on... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Emily Scheeler
okay here comes the most unfair review EVER since I read 3 whole pages before closing it forever. But within those 3 pages were mass murder, torture, killing dogs for apparently no... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Adele
Married to a vet. Seems plausible....all the different voices. War is like a death....Different for each person so Redeployment captures that essence. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Robert A.