These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories

heroichappydead

In his debut book, Luke Mogelson masterfully weaves together 10 stories linked by the war in Afghanistan. Each story shows a glimpse into the life of a veteran, a family member of a veteran, or a civilian living abroad, at some point during or after their time in Afghanistan. It demonstrates the harrowing effect of war on those we send to fight it and those they’ve left behind. Some of the stories contain characters that shows up in another story in the book and you learn something more about what happened to them before or after their previous appearance. This book illustrates that many who have fought in a war have a hard time adjusting to life outside the military once they return home. Many of the stories even seem to end abruptly, without much explanation of what happened next. This could be frustrating at times, but I think it’s poetic that the endings weren’t always tied up with a nice little bow. By now we’ve all heard of PTSD, but it can manifest itself in different ways. I think this book is an excellent example of how people cope (or don’t) in different ways.

PROS:

Beautifully written with countless haunting passages

Tragic insight into PTSD and the multitude of experiences in war

Includes stories about what it’s like for a contractor or civilian in Afghanistan during war time, which is a view that hasn’t been talked about as much as the experience of soldiers

CONS:

Some of the abrupt endings left me confused

It wasn’t always clear when a character from another story showed up, I had to reference the book jacket multiple times as it mentions all the stories that are tied together.

Quotable quotes:

“It was my favorite because it angled out to a wide base that made it difficult to knock over, because there was often vodka in it instead of coffee, and because the wide base meant that the more you drank, the harder it became to reach the bottom.”

“Nowadays, only the families remain: fathers with nothing else to give their sons, sons with no one else to be except their fathers.”

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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