Sunday, September 23, 2012

War Stories

Life is a battlefield in War Stories, a riveting collection of short fiction by Elisabeth Doyle. Each story delves deeply into the experiences of American soldiers, the physically and emotionally wounded (and those who love them) as they struggle to survive and fulfill the demands of civilian life. 

Half of the stories deal with the idea of soldiers in the literal, military sense of the word:

Rebelliousness is at the heart of "Recruiters," a story about a farewell rendezvous for a young friend heading for boot camp that goes dreadfully wrong.

In "One of These Days It Will All Be Over," a man returns home from war and admits to his wife, "I'm not the same man...I'm nothing now...How can God love me?" But the simple act of going to pick up his children one day offers him an unexpected moment of transcendence.

"Pistolesi," a story about resilience, is told from the point of view of a young war wife and mother whose severely injured husband returns home from combat steeped in a severe depression. In order to pay the bills, the wife takes a job as a baby photographer and becomes enlightened by what it means to fight for the things that give life meaning.

"Driving" depicts how the terrifying prospect of combat is overcome for a young couple by taking car rides together.

And in "The Deepest, Darkest Part of the Woods," a numb veteran returns home unable to move past a chilling atrocity of war that keeps him a spectator to his own life. But the presence of a neighbor and the remembrance of a compelling dream offers a sense of renewed perspective.

The rest of the stories deal with secondary soldiers - those struggling to move on and reinvent their lives beyond the personal grief and anguish inflicted by the ripple-down effects of war:

In "Median," a highway car crash is the impetus that forces the father of a war hero to come face to face with the past. 

"Passengers" is a harrowing story about a mother whose son was unable to cope with life after war and how she finds herself caught up in a life and death battle of her own.  

Aimlessness, isolation, guilt, detachment and love are common threads that bind these nine sparse, yet richly drawn stories. With great perception and insight, Doyle focuses on chilling facts and small moments that give emotional heft to the interior landscapes of these traumatized, fully realized characters.

War Stories is currently under consideration for The Story Prize (2012).  To read more about Elisabeth Doyle and her writing process link HERE.

War Stories by Elisabeth Doyle
Two Harbors Press, $14.95, Trade Paper, 9781937928407, 111 pp
Publication Date: September 21, 2012
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This book was provided for review by Tribute Books, as part of a hosted book blog tour.