I first came across Mackin's writing through The New Yorker, which published his vivid, lyrical essay "Crossing the River No Name." This collection, which includes the piece that first drew me into Mackin's writing, is a series of related short stories about a Navy SEAL's deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mackin's writing is crisp, clear, and pulls no punches. There is no fog of war here. The stories depict the harassment and detention of children; the emotional pain of mothers and wives; boredom alleviated by concocting missions against innocent old foes; and of course a surplus of death and destruction. But it is all told in a truthful, unflinching way, as if Mackin is telling us, "this is fiction, yes, but this is what really happened out there."
Mackin is a master storyteller and the detail of these essays is just brilliant. I highly recommend this for a clear-eyed portrait of America at war. Recommended By Mary S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of The Things They Carried and Redeployment, a short story collection from a U.S. Navy veteran who completed five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan — a remarkable portrait of the absurdity and poetry that define life in the most clandestine circles of modern warfare.
A mesmerizing debut collection that reveals what it's like to be a member of an elite special operations team, where missions take place behind night vision, ancient credos, and layers of secrecy. Moving between settings at home and abroad, in vivid language that reflects the wonder and discontent of war, Mackin draws the reader into a series of surreal, unsettling, and deeply human episodes. Told without a trace of bravado, and with a keen, Barry Hannah-like sense of the absurd, Mackin manages to capture the tragedy and heroism, degradation and exultation in the smallest details of war.
"A near-miraculous, brilliant debut." George Saunders, Man Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo
"In one exquisitely crafted story after the next, Will Mackin maps the surreal psychological terrain of soldiers in a perpetual war." Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment