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Flashes of War: Short Stories Paperback – May 27, 2013
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This book is divided into many short stories. Some as short as one page, and the longest spanning less than a dozen or so pages. If you enjoy reading short stories, that get to the point quickly than you will enjoy this book. The subject matter is widely varied and from a variety of different viewpoints, but remains focused on an overarching theme of war. There are stories that revolve around American soldiers, Iraqi children, and Afghani women just to name a few. This spread in perspective was a welcome sight for myself; however, if you like your novels to focus around a grand central story with main characters you may not find this book appealing.
Katey Schultz excellent use of imagery is apparent throughout the book. The stories described the desert heat in great detail, in one of the stories a bottle of water (although warm) seemed to be absolutely thirst quenching to me, the reader. I enjoy books that have the ability to have such vivid imagery; however, her prose also has the power to cause one to become quite downtrodden. Some of the stories encompass love and loss, and life and death, moreover making the tone of the overall book quite grim. It must be noted that I found these stories were best read in short sittings, as it was easy for me to become sensitive to the rather depressive material. I say this just as a precaution, and others may not have the same trouble.
An important part of the book: “Interview with the Author” gives some valuable insight into how Katey Schultz was able to write a book that seemed to be the voice of soldiers, citizens, dependents etc. Her intense research and passion for this subject matter is tangible. Although a book of fiction Katey Schultz is able to tell stories with an expert level of prose and powerful imagery which translated to a thoroughly enjoying read.
While I thoroughly enjoyed reading many short stories as opposed to one long story, it did take a toll on my emotions. For example (spoiler alert), “My Son Wanted a Notebook” was only about one page long and brings the reader along a roller coaster of feelings. It begins with a boy who, as the title suggests, wants a notebook. He gets money from his mom, some of the little money that the family has, and he goes to the store to get one and improve his education. However, after he leaves, a roadside bomb explodes and the boy is killed as an unfortunate casualty of war. In one page, Schultz catapults the reader through joy and optimism for this young child, then horror, sadness and anger as the child is killed. The weight that the child's parents must be feeling is on the shoulders of the reader. In one page, I developed a connection to the kid that was surprisingly strong.
Flashes of War is a very well written series of stories which excellently captures the lives of all those involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since it is not one long novel but a collection of short stories, it is a very quick, easy read that can be continued with a few minutes here and there. However it is so emotionally taxing that it perhaps cannot be read all at a time. This books greatest feature, it's ability to create an emotional connection to the text, makes it difficult to complete.
P.S. An honorable mention is the short story “KIA,” which is simply a list of items that would be found in the room of a soldier who died in battle. There are no sentences, only items listed out and sorted into the areas of the room which they are found. Even by naming items, Schultz exquisitely describes the life of this soldier and paints of picture of the aftermath of his sacrifice.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Flashes of War: Short Stories
I used this book in my "War Stories" class (a first-year college English program), and they were...Read more