Redeployment by Phil Klay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
While Klay may have won the National Book Award for fiction with this short story collection, he breaks no new ground it. War stories abound from WWI to Iraqistan. Some offer deep insights into the life of a soldier. Some are blatantly anti or pro-war. Some exalt warriors as heroes. Some are well written; some aren't.
Had my book club not selected this work, I might not have finished it. The language in one story was little more than a list of acronyms a non-military reader wouldn't understand. I didn't "get" it. Some were little more than rehashings of Vietnam-era motifs with the desert substituted for the jungle.
One touched my heart. The last one focused on a young Marine in a battery company whose long-range artillery had taken out a nest of insurgents. Or had it? The Marine's battery mates discuss how many bad guys it had killed. One wanted to see the bodies for proof. The narrator goes on a search for the dead insurgents, only to find that the hospital on his base only handled coalition casualties. The closing scene with soldiers standing silently while a fallen comrade is carried past for transport home borders on the maudlin, but just misses it.
Had I not had to finish the book, I would have missed what I consider the one gem in it.