War Memorials

Clint McCown, Author
Clint McCown, Author Graywolf Press $23.95 (220p) ISBN 978-1-55597-312-4
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-618-12847-1
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There are only two types of men in McCown's (The Member-Guest) courageous and brutal novel set in a backwater Southern town in 1992: those who served their country in war and those who did not. Nolan Vann, 33, never served in the armed forces, but he's draped in the shadow of his war-hero father in a county whose men have fought in every conflict from 1812 to Desert Storm. Now Nolan's been fired by his own father from his job selling life insurance, and he believes his wife, Laney, is pregnant by her boyfriend, Steve, with whom Nolan used to play baseball. Nolan searches for direction and stability in a world as chaotic and hostile to him as any enemy territory. Readers accompany the protagonist on his emotional tour of duty as he repossesses household appliances, finds a dead body, rescues a snake-bitten teen, aids an arrow-pierced chef and witnesses his rival literally explode. Through his confrontations with a cast of quirky, dispirited country folk and the memory of his dead mother, who strategically used Nolan as a pawn in her own emotional battle, readers will come to understand the private wars and resulting casualties Nolan and those around him suffer in their daily lives. This is a forceful and often cynically humorous novel. Each chapter reads like a tightly knit short story with rich dialogue reinforcing the theme of life as a struggle for survival; one need not serve in the military, McCown teaches, to learn the lessons of combat. (Nov.)
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