Monday, January 21, 2013

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

From the description I thought this book sounded fascinating, in fact the long-winded, descriptive prose left me bored.  It's written by a creative writing grad who served with the US army in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 and is a fictional account of the experiences of Private Bartle, a young soldier serving in Iraq at that time.  In training, at the request of his superior, Sterling, he takes a teenaged soldier, Private Murphy, under his wing and promises Murphy's mother he'll bring him home safely.  As Sterling wisely tells him, he made a mistake as there are no promises in war.  The book moves back and forth between what happened in training and then Iraq and the consequences for Bartle after the war.  It certainly is very colourful in its description of the horrors of war - even for the so-called lucky survivors.  But I just found the descriptions of place and mood went on for too long.  The story would have had more impact if it moved more quickly.

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