New book: Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War, edited by Roy Scranton GS and Matt Gallagher (Da Capo Press)
The authors: An Iraq veteran, Scranton was an artilleryman in the Army from 2002-2006 and is earning a doctorate in English at Princeton. His fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in Boston Review, The Massachusetts Review, New Letters, and The New York Times. A former Army captain who served in Iraq, Gallagher is a senior fellow at the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
The book: This anthology of war stories — written by veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — includes pieces by an artilleryman, public affairs Marines, a military lawyer, staff officers, a medic, an Army Ranger, and a military spouse. “Redeployment” by Phil Klay explores the challenges faced by a Marine returning home; Andrew Slater, a former Green Beret, writes about a soldier with a traumatic brain injury; and Roy Scranton’s “Red Steel India” (from his novel War Porn) portrays soldiers in charge of guarding a gate in Iraq.
From the preface: “One thing a vet will always tell you is that it’s never like it is in the stories. Then they’ll tell you theirs.
“We convened at the White Horse Tavern, under the glum and bleary eyes of Dylan Thomas, Norman Mailer, and Jack Kerouac. …
“We had our own stories to tell, and in each other had found just the right audience to test the telling. There’d be no bullshit, yet we shared among us a subtle understanding that the real truth might never make it on the page. We each knew the problem we altogether struggled with, which was how to say something true about an experience unreal, to a people fed and wadded about with lies.”
Review: Fire and Forget “captures the messiness of soldiering when the mission and endgame are unclear. Though fiction, each work reads true, filled with tension, fear, and anger,” wrote Booklist. “Readers are transported to desert checkpoints, ride along with vehicle convoys, and return home from combat to face an uncertain future.”
Book event: Editors Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher and two contributors are scheduled for a reading at Labyrinth Books in Princeton March 12 at 6 p.m.