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Dear Mr. Presidentby Gabe Hudson
Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award Nominee for First Fiction
Synopses & Reviews
Everybody’s Gulf War Syndrome is a little bit different. Or so believes Larry, who returns home from Desert Storm to find his hair gone and his bones rapidly disintegrating. Then there’s Lance Corporal James Laverne of the US Marines, who grows a third ear in Kuwait. And in the audaciously comic novella “Notes from a Bunker Along Highway 8,” a Green Beret deserts his team after seeing a vision of George Washington, only to find a new calling—administering aid to wounded Iraqi civilians; he’s hindered only by the furtive nature of his mission and an unruly band of chimpanzees. Together these narratives form a bracing amalgamation of devastating humor and brilliant cultural observation, in which Gabe Hudson fearlessly explores the darker implications of American military power.
"An important contribution to war literature, and certainly a talent to watch." Kirkus Reviews
"Hudson...displays a brilliantly macabre sense of humor, a fine ear for military and bureaucratic cliches and abundant compassion for his quirky, bruised characters. This is a fine debut that may remind readers of George Saunders." Publishers Weekly
"Weird, wonderful, and worrisome." The Washington Post Book World
"If this kind of dark playfulness sounds like ground already covered by writers like George Saunders and Donald Antrim, it is. But Hudson's dedication to the absurd runs surprisingly deep, and this may be appropriate for his subject." Chris Colin, The New York Times Book Review
"Dear Mr. President is a war book like no other. It's as if Salvador Dali had rewritten All Quiet on the Western Front." USA Today
"Wickedly funny and extremely touching...cannot — and should not — be ignored." San Francisco Chronicle
"A major literary feat. Hudson...is more Kafka than Tolstoy. Like the war at its center, Dear Mr. President is hallucinatory, fast, and wantonly disturbing, but also a victory." Men's Journal
"Hudson writes about a pain so vast and shattering that the only way it can safely be surveyed is with night goggles and hallucinatory humor....This depiction of madness, this blur of comedy and tragedy is done with deft humor and convincing passion." The San Diego Union-Tribune
"Beyond their great narrative propulsion and their astonishing but always balanced surreality and humor, Gabe Hudson's stories have a crucial and rare thing: soul. He's an important writer." Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
"Mr. Hudson's style goes from zero to one hundred MPH in the first sentence. Faster than a Road Runner cartoon, he reminds us war can be funny as hell." Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club and Choke
"Gabe Hudson writes crazed, energetic stories full of mayhem and heart. This collection summons up a funny, troubling image of America the Invader, clumsily enforcing its will with a high-tech army of narcissists and neurotics." George Saunders, author of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and Pastoralia
"Gabe Hudson's wacky dispatches from a wacky war chronicle — with the knife-edge humor of a fine stand-up comedian — America's twentieth-century decline from World War heroism through hubristic tragedy to black farce." Robert Coover
Dear Mr. President introduces a cast of conflicted characters whose efforts to cope with their experiences at war are both funny and tragic.
In "The Cure as I Found It," an army infantryman who fought along the Highway of Death returns home with a form of Gulf War Syndrome and a great deal of guilt. He practices getting into Heaven through visualization. In the title story, "Dear Mr. President," a Gulf War vet appeals to the first President Bush for help after his wife decides she has had enough. In "Cross-Dresser," a stealth fighter pilot in the neuropsych ward of a VA hospital begs to be re-admitted to active duty, after justifying, with impeccable logic, his recent behavior. In "Notes from a Bunker Along Highway 8," a Green Beret assigned to the task of hunting SCUDs around Baghdad deserts his team after seeing a strange vision. He takes up residence with a fellow soldier in a deserted Iraqi bunker, where he proceeds to give medical aid to refugees, only to discover that being helpful is more complicated than he may have anticipated.
Everybodys Gulf War Syndrome is a little bit different. Or so believes Larry, who returns home from Desert Storm to find his hair gone and his bones rapidly disintegrating. Then theres Lance Corporal James Laverne of the US Marines, who grows a third ear in Kuwait. And in the audaciously comic novella “Notes from a Bunker Along Highway 8,” a Green Beret deserts his team after seeing a vision of George Washington, only to find a new calling—administering aid to wounded Iraqi civilians; hes hindered only by the furtive nature of his mission and an unruly band of chimpanzees. Together these narratives form a bracing amalgamation of devastating humor and brilliant cultural observation, in which Gabe Hudson fearlessly explores the darker implications of American military power.
About the Author
Gabe Hudson received his MFA from Brown University, where he was awarded the John Hawkes Prize in Fiction. His fiction has been published in The New Yorker and McSweeneys. He has received the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was a PEN/Hemingway Finalist. He lives in New York City.
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