When writer’s write about war, I always wonder how much is truth, how much is imagination, how much is exaggeration, and how much is therapy. And there have been many good examples of writers such as Hemingway who were able to translate their military experience into literature. I feel that Philip Klay’s Redeployment will become one of those war-experience works that will join the canon along side The Things They Carried and All Quiet on the Western Front.
In Redeployment, I feel like truth and therapy have been combined into a powerful collection of short stories. The opening story, and title of the book, moved me beyond any other war story I’ve read. Klay takes the reader into the mind and experience of a returning vet that is so gut-punchingly real that it feels like I’m in some 3D experience. And it’s only a short story! To me this shows the effects of the artistry an author can express no matter how long his/her work is.
Besides The Book Thief and Never Let Me Go, I’d never been so deeply emotionally moved. I’ll have to add Redeployment to this list because it moved me in such a beautiful and tragic way I was afraid I was going to just loose it and cry my eyes out (it didn’t happen, but what an experience!). Klay makes his characters just real enough that I almost feel like I know them, yet makes them complex and unique so that they aren’t just a stereotype or generalization. In other words, he’s introduced me to the idea that war veterans are not all the same, even while they deal with similar issues. Very well done and deserves the recognition it received from last year’s National Book Award.