On a recent trip to NYC, I stopped in at the Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue and picked up a copy of Ben Fountain’s BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK, a title that I have been meaning to read for some time. All of the superlatives used to describe this debut novel are utterly deserving. This is the 1st in the triple crown of Iraq War novels I read in January. It's smart, funny, and moving and until Beyonce’s appearance last night at Superbowl LXVII, it would have also provided renewed enthusiasm for Destiny’s Child at a fictional half-time show.
Kevin Powers’s THE YELLOW BIRDS is the second Iraq War novel I read this year and the first by a soldier who actively served; Powers was deployed as a machine gunner in the U.S. Army in 2004 and 2005. I became aware of this startling debut through prize-winning novelist Chris Cleave’s twitter feed where he kvelled about it as the best book he’d read in a long time. (Follow him @chriscleave.) Because Powers is a poet, there are lines on every page that will make you gasp at their beauty. THE YELLOW BIRDS is a harrowing, heartbreaking, healing read.
FOBBIT by David Abrams ( @ImDavidAbrams) was the third jewel I found my way to in this Iraq War novel triple crown. And, Abrams, like Powers, was deployed to Iraq in 2005 where he served as part of the U.S. Army’s public affairs team. I found FOBBIT to be the novel with the most verisimilitude of the three and its fine satire to be reminiscent of early John Irving. When you finally have a copy between your hands, be prepare to be gobsmacked.