I don’t normally read short stories, but was intrigued enough by the description of Phil Klay’s debut collection Redeployment to give it a go. I was not disappointed. Klay received an MFA after his stint in the Marine Corps and served in Iraq. All of his stories involve soldiers of various stripes, from a Mortuary Affairs Marine who processes bodies to a chaplain trying his best to provide solace to a soldier. What struck me most was Klay’s ability to shift characters and yet have them all feel authentic. The older chaplain felt just as believable as the soldier who seeks help from a counselor about a killing he didn’t commit to help his friend.
Visceral, searing, both tender and brusque all come to mind when I think of this book . Klay has the ability to convey the posturing of men who are trying hard to be blind to the horrors happening in front of their eyes and, with occasional touches of humor and grace, he succeeds. I tried to find some sort of witty closing for this review, but in the end I felt it would be doing a disservice to this stunning and unnerving collection. Just read it.