The Letter Bearer

Robert Allison. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $25 (272p) ISBN 978-1-61902-612-4
In Allison’s poetic first novel, which breathes fresh life into World War II fiction, an English rider is blown off his motorcycle in the North African desert, his only possession a mailbag. Badly wounded, with no memory and no identification on his person, he is eventually found by a group of deserters—an officer, a driver, and a medic, all British, and a Canadian tanker and an Italian POW—who take him in and see to his wounds. When his memory fails to return, the rider goes through the mailbag and begins reading letters in the hopes that one of them will jog his memory. Once spotted, the deserters decide to move on and head for possible safety in the Akhdar Mountains. Along the way, they acquire an abandoned American tank and are forced to contend with German patrols, hostile local tribesmen, Italian stragglers, and their own internecine conflicts. Amid it all, the rider, not trusted by his fellow travelers, fights to regain his memory and set a course for himself. The narrative is filled with harrowing confrontations and memorable scenes illustrating the follies of war, all punctuated by heart-shattering letters between soldiers and their loved ones back home. This novel is ultimately a stunning combination of muscular action and penetrating self-examination. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/07/2015
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-61902-904-0
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