Redeployment

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Overview

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 ...

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Redeployment

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

This new collection of short stories possesses the resonance of war really lived. Debut author Phil Klay is an Ivy League graduate, but he is also a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq during the Surge. Like him, most of his main characters have somehow survived the numbing, often bizarre experiences of war and now are left behind in their aftermath. Set in Iraq, Afghanistan, and American suburbia, Reployment reveals dimensions of military service that never appear in recruiting posters. A Discover Great New Writers selection for March.

The New York Times Book Review - Dexter Filkins
Klay succeeds brilliantly, capturing on an intimate scale the ways in which the war in Iraq evoked a unique array of emotion, predicament and heartbreak. In Klay's hands, Iraq comes across not merely as a theater of war but as a laboratory for the human condition in extremis. Redeployment is hilarious, biting, whipsawing and sad. It's the best thing written so far on what the war did to people's souls.
The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
In Redeployment, his searing debut collection of short stories, Phil Klay…gives the civilian reader a visceral feeling for what it is like to be a soldier in a combat zone, and what it is like to return home, still reeling from the dislocations of war. Gritty, unsparing and fiercely observed, these stories leave us with a harrowing sense of the war in Iraq as it was experienced, day by day, by individual soldiers; it achieves through fiction something very similar to what David Finkel's 2009 nonfiction book The Good Soldiers did through tough but empathetic reporting.
Publishers Weekly
★ 01/06/2014
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. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-12-22
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.
Library Journal
★ 01/01/2014
The Iraq War and its aftermath is the subject of this powerful and unflinching compendium, which explores the true cost of serving in combat on the human body and, more important, the human psyche. The title story focuses on the alienation of a soldier returning to domestic life after experiencing the brutality of serving on the front lines. "Money as a Weapons System" concerns a foreign service officer who discovers another side of war's absurdity when he is forced to teach a group of Iraqis how to play baseball to satisfy the whims of a wealthy political donor. "Praying in the Furnace" movingly portrays a Catholic chaplain who comes to understand the nature of faith after all illusion is stripped away as he ministers to soldiers who face death daily. VERDICT Klay brilliantly captures the alternating terror and banality of modern war in details such as soldiers who relax by playing video games after returning to their quarters from a patrol. Harrowing at times and blackly comic at others, the author's first collection could become for the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts what Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is for the Vietnam War. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/13.]—Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594204999
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 27,851
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Phil Klay

Phil Klay is a Dartmouth grad and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. He served in Iraq during the Surge and subsequently received an MFA from Hunter College, where he studied with Colum McCann and Peter Carey, and worked as Richard Ford’s research assistant. His first published story, “Redeployment”, appeared in Granta’s Summer 2011 issue. That story led to the sale of his collection of the same name, which was published in seven countries. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, Tin House, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012.

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Read an Excerpt

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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 4, 2014

    _"Redeployment" is today's top fictional account of Mi

    _"Redeployment" is today's top fictional account of Middle East combat, told in a series of story-chapters by Marines on and off the firing line. This first rate attention grabber moves along in a flow of action, irony, humor, and profound sadness.
    Check out the first chapter for the book's sustaining tone; every line is fast and no nonsense. The reader learns that home-bound Marines--coming from places like Fallujah--do so in carefully managed steps. "See, it's not a straight shot from war to the Jacksonville mall." Instead, it's a bus to Kuwait where the troops are packed in the plush wonder of a commercial airliner.
    Heavy armament is everywhere: "You've got a rifle between your knees...Some Marines got M9 pistols, but they take away your bayonets because you're not allowed to have knives on an airplane." Memories suddenly emerge. The "doing the death rattle, foaming and shaking ...He's hit with a 7.62...he'll be gone in a second, but the company XO walks up, pulls out his KA-BAR, and slits his throat...On the flight I thought about that..." The final irony, the last stage of deployment, is the warm hometown parade. But even here you're always watching your back, guarded as an orange traffic light. And always, always, there ias that distance between you, the civilian, and the warrior.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2014

    great book!

    The storytelling is great. The Things They Carried really put the Vietnam War in perspective. This collection of stories does that for the War in Iraq.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2014

    Sky :)

    Look i cried at the dogs getting shot but i dont like hearing about that so i wouldnt recemend this to people who love animals as much as i do... But on the other hand i had to say it astonishingly wonderful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 12, 2014

    Riveting

    Like any book of short stories, some are going to better than others.

    And, to be honest, some of these stories where a without "wow."

    However, when they were good, man, they were really, really good. Riveting.

    Even the less good ones are full of raw emotion and language.

    Definite read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 28, 2014

    I really enjoyed this book. Like another commenter said, it has

    I really enjoyed this book. Like another commenter said, it has a similar feel to Tim O'Brien's "The Things they Carried" 
    It shows the reality of being deployed in Iraq, and the aftermath through the experiences of admin marines to infantry, to propagandists. It has no "moto" feel, instead,
    it just shows the truth for these men and women. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2014

    Dont waste your money

    First time in a while I didnt bother to finish a book.
    Fiction. Dont waste your money.
    Couldnt give it a half star...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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