‘Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War’ is a collection of stories from authors who came in direct contact with the recent American wars.
Published as fiction, these stories share accounts of being stationed overseas, and the daily struggles of a returning soldier. Trends like readjusting and finding a place in society, alcoholism, coping with traumas and building functional relationships with friends and family are all prevalent within these stories.
At certain points, the tales get gritty and can be hard to stomach. They give various perspectives of what war is like and how it can have such profound effects on the people involved.
After reading this book, the mindset and experiences that are told within these stories are still a bit unreal for me. It’s hard to really grasp onto such things that seem like a nightmare.
However, not every story shared the same intensity as others, especially the stories that were in written from the perspective of a returning soldier. Actually, I’d say those were the stories that stuck with me most, because they were told in a way that gave the reader a connection with the soldier.
For me, it seems like the reality of war is left at a far distance, in some desolate place. By bringing the stories to the family cabin or the neighborhood, it helped the reader see how far the effects of war can stretch. The stories and occurrences shared in this book grasp onto the reality of war and really bring it home.
Stories were set both at home and overseas. I found the stories that were set at home to be particularly engaging, because of the way the authors weaved in an out of what seemed like two worlds. There was home, supposed to be safe and away from war, but then there was the desert and station, which seemed hostile and isolated.
One of the stories placed you at a base near a small town. The day seemed bleak, just like the daily grind. The story wasn’t dull, though, because it put you in the soldiers boots and took you right along. The story would continue as if everything was average, and just then, everything erupts on the page without any forewarning.
Other stories were set back home, walking along the streets with old friends chatting about old times. There wasn’t any immediate danger or constant need to be on guard. The moments seemed simple enough, just like day-to-day life.
Each story gave the reader insight to what it means to be a returning soldier, a stationed marine or even an army spouse. This book was a helpful way to begin understanding what happens during and after the war. They all had their own way of telling the story and I wouldn’t say one stuck out more than the rest. I haven’t read many war stories, and the ones I have share many similarities to ‘Fire and Forget’, but I’d say this book resonated with me more than the rest.
I would recommend this book to anybody, especially to those who have served or know somebody serving. The book was fairly short—15 stories, the shortest being six pages long—but contained powerful stories from talented storytellers. I’d give the book 9/10.