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Redeployment
Cover of Redeployment
Redeployment
Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction · Winner of the John Leonard First Book Prize · Selected as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Time,...
Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction · Winner of the John Leonard First Book Prize · Selected as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Time,...
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  • Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction · Winner of the John Leonard First Book Prize · Selected as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post Book World, Amazon, and more
    Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.
    In "Redeployment", a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died." In "After Action Report", a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn't commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Morturary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains—of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic "Money as a Weapons System", a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming.
    Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.
    From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the book We shot dogs. Not by accident. We did it on purpose and we called it Operation Scooby. I'm a dog person, so I thought about that a lot.

    First time was instinct. I hear O'Leary go, "Jesus," and there's a skinny brown dog lapping up blood the same way he'd lap up water from a bowl. It wasn't American blood, but still, there's that dog, lapping it up. And that's the last straw, I guess, and then it's open season on dogs.

    At the time you don't think about it. You're thinking about who's in that house, what's he armed with, how's he gonna kill you, your buddies. You're going block by block, fighting with rifles good to 550 meters and you're killing people at five in a concrete box.

    The thinking comes later, when they give you the time. See, it's not a straight shot back, from war to the Jacksonville mall. When our deployment was up, they put us on TQ, this logistics base out in the desert, let us decompress a bit. I'm not sure what they meant by that. Decompress. We took it to mean jerk off a lot in the showers. Smoke a lot of cigarettes and play a lot of cards. And then they took us to Kuwait and put us on a commercial airliner to go home.

    So there you are. You've been in a no-shit war zone and then you're sitting in a plush chair looking up at a little nozzle shooting air conditioning, thinking, what the fuck? You've got a rifle between your knees, and so does everyone else. Some Marines got M9 pistols, but they take away your bayonets because you aren't allowed to have knives on an airplane. Even though you've showered, you all look grimy and lean. Everybody's hollow eyed and their cammies are beat to shit. And you sit there, and close your eyes, and think.

    The problem is, your thoughts don't come out in any kind of straight order. You don't think, oh, I did A, then B, then C, then D. You try to think about home, then you're in the torture house. You see the body parts in the locker and the retarded guy in the cage. He squawked like a chicken. His head was shrunk down to a coconut. It takes you awhile to remember Doc saying they'd shot mercury into his skull, and then it still doesn't make any sense.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 6, 2014
    Klay’s title story, a moving homage to soldiers of war who must return home to attempt a normal life, made a splash when it was first published in Granta. This debut collection of a dozen stories resonates with themes of battle and images of residual battlefield pain and psychological trauma. This is especially evident in heart-wrenching stories like “Bodies,” in which a soldier buffers his grisly war stories in order not to have to truly share the horror of his tour in Iraq. Alternately, some stories are lighter and offer glimmers of humanity against Klay’s bleak landscape of combat, as in “Money as a Weapons System,” which finds a Foreign Service Officer charged with improving the civil affairs of Iraqi citizens by offering them baseball lessons. Klay grasps both tough-guy characterization and life spent in the field, yet he also mines the struggle of soldiers to be emotionally freed from the images they can’t stop seeing. Written in clipped sentences capturing the brutality of conflict, the specter of death permeates each story, from the corpse-eating dogs in the title story to Sergeant Deetz in “Ten Kliks South,” who snickers at his troop’s body count of insurgents. It’s clear that Klay, himself a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served in Iraq, has parlayed his insider’s knowledge of soldier-bonding and emotional scarring into a collection that proves a powerful statement on the nature of war, violence, and the nuances of human nature.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2014
    A sharp set of stories, the author's debut, about U.S. soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their aftermaths, with violence and gallows humor dealt out in equal measure. Klay is a Marine veteran who served in Iraq, and the 12 stories reveal a deep understanding of the tedium, chaos and bloodshed of war, as well as the emotional disorientation that comes with returning home from it. But in the spirit of the best nonfiction writing about recent U.S. war vets (David Finkel's Thank You For Your Service, for example), Klay eschews simple redemptive or tragic narrative arcs. The discomfiting "Bodies" is narrated by a Mortuary Affairs officer whose treatment of women back home is almost as equally coldhearted as he had to be when collecting remains, while "Prayer in the Furnace" is told from the perspective of a chaplain forced to confront a battalion that's been bullied into a hyperviolent posture. Klay favors a clipped, dialogue-heavy style, and he's skilled enough to use it for comic as well as dramatic effect. "OIF," for instance, is a vignette that riffs on the military's alphabet soup of acronyms and how they emotionally paper over war's toll. ("And even though J-15 left his legs behind, at least he got CASEVAC'd to the SSTP and died on the table.") The finest story in the collection, "Money as a Weapons System," follows a Foreign Service Officer tasked with helping with reconstruction efforts in Iraq. His grand ambition to reopen a water treatment plant is slowly undone by incompetence, internecine squabbling and a congressman's buddy who thinks there's no problem in Iraq that teaching kids baseball won't fix; Klay's grasp of bureaucracy and bitter irony here rivals Joseph Heller and George Orwell. The narrators sound oddly similar throughout the book, as if the military snapped everybody into one world-wise voice. But it does make the book feel unusually cohesive for a debut collection. A no-nonsense and informed reckoning with combat.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    October 15, 2013
    I've heard nothing but raves about this taut, in-your-face collection from former marine captain and Iraq veteran Klay, a Dartmouth grad with an MFA from Hunter College. Klay lets us feel what life is like on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan with stories like "Redeployment," about a soldier edging back into civilian life after having spent time in Fallujah shooting dogs who were eating human corpses.

    Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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