America,  Book Reviews,  FICTION,  Iran and Iraq

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers *** (of 4)

The war is Iraq.  Young men are sent to fight an unseen enemy.  No, not fight them, but kill them.  Over and over.  For the two protagonists, Bartle and Murphy, there doesn’t seem to be an especially compelling reason to kill faceless opponents even if they are trying to kill you and it is more than 100 degrees at night and you have not washed in days and you are only 19 years old on your first big trip away from home in the mountains of Appalachia.  But it is kill or be killed so there is also a fight raging inside their sleep-deprived, tobacco-addled heads.  Vietnam redux.  Kevin Powers approach to his particular book about war is to use prose that is really poetry.  Battles (mental and physical) bloom with literary ferocity.  In the end he sidesteps the question of what went on over there, replacing it with the answer to how it felt to be there.