I am not big on short stories. I like a book that I can sink my teeth into and a story that emotionally resonates which shorter forms of writing usually don’t have the time or space to do. However all my preconceptions are out the window after reading this powerful collection of short fiction.

Fiction about war I find is so much more powerful than non fiction. Non fiction is limited by facts and hindsight. In the case of biography it is limited to one point of view (which is also often the case with some history books). Fiction however has no such limits. Fiction can go inside the heads of people, in can give us both sides of the conflict, in can be in the ‘here and now’ or it can be reflective and it can trigger an emotional response rarely found in non fiction.

Fire And Forget is a collection of short stories written by veterans, male and female, of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They tell the stories of going to war and coming home. They tell the stories of conflict, external and internal. They tell the stories of those left behind, at home and at war And they tell stories of wounds, physical and mental.

One of my favourite books of last year was The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. It was a book I could only describe as devastatingly beautiful. The stories in this collection pack the same emotional punch, possibly even more. Each story shows you another destructive side to war. The wreckage inflicted is not limited to the war zone and it’s combatants and the civilians trapped in the middle, but shock waves out to include so many other people. These stories are only the tip of the very large iceberg that is the havoc of war.

Watch out for the names in this book. Each contributor’s writing talent is self-evident and I’m sure a number will follow in the literary footsteps of Norman Mailer, James Jones, Tim O’Brien, James Webb and Kevin Powers. A literary tradition whose importance is summoned up perfectly by Colum McCann in the foreword to the book:

“It is the job of literature to confront the terrible truths of what war has done and continues to do to us. It is also the job of literature to make sense of whatever small beauty we can rescue from the maelstrom.”

Eclipsing War by Colum McCann, foreword to Fire And Forget

ISBN: 9780306821769
ISBN-10: 0306821761
Classification: Short stories , Anthologies (non-poetry)
Format: Paperback / softback (208mm x 137mm x 15mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Da Capo Press Inc
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 21-Feb-2013
Country of Publication: United States

8 thoughts on “FIRE AND FORGET

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