Brief Encounters with the Enemy

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh. Dial, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9358-5
A young American soldier combats boredom in the title entry of this collection of eight bleak stories about life during wartime. In “Victory,” a disabled supermarket cashier woos a kleptomaniac high school student from a wealthy family and watches as his coworkers get called off to fight. Jealous of the attention given to a friend returning from military service, a miserable call center employee takes out his dissatisfaction on his customers in “Operators.” “Enchantment” shows a man trying to readjust to his former life as a prep school teacher and his relationship with a married woman after coming back from his tour of duty. Set during an unnamed conflict and in unnamed cities, these stories revolve around the way war affects middle- and working-class Americans, whether they are leaving to fight or staying behind. Sayrafiezadeh portrays the repetitive monotony of depression and stagnation in his character’s lives with skill, and though this repetition can be hard-going, the collection as a whole illuminates the wide range of motivations that drive people to go to war. Often beautiful, sometimes lifeless, and almost entirely without hope, these stories reflect the listlessness of our times. Agent: Zoë Pagnamenta, the Zoë Pagnamenta Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/24/2013
Release date: 08/13/2013
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 117 pages - 978-0-8129-9359-2
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