Comrades-in-Arms

Rita Oakes. Lethe (Ingram, dist.), $18 trade paper (258p) ISBN 978-1-59021-298-1
Oakes’s collection of vivid wartime historical fiction spans several conflicts and countries. A French soldier fights guerrillas and pines for the man he left behind in “By Bayonet and Brush.” “Before Chaos and the Glare” sets up the supernatural twist to Napoleon’s invasion of Russia that continues in “As the Crow Flies” and “A Fragment of Beast,” in which a soldier returns home to a murder mystery instead of his beloved Martin. The sweet, epic love story of “The Man Who Listened to Stones” contrasts with the jarring horror of the battlefield in “Falls the Shadow.” A downed American soldier in WWII slowly falls for a transgender Polish sniper in “Zemlyanka,” a break from stories set on the front lines. In “For You, Lili Marlene,” a Roma man struggles with the death of his wife and the aftermath of WWII in a refugee camp. The realistic and often disturbing imagery lends depth and life. Readers drawn in by the book’s billing as a collection of gay war stories may be surprised that several works don’t appear to include gay characters, and it’s discomfiting to see a transgender woman portrayed as a romantic interest for a gay man. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/10/2015
Genre: Fiction
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