DEAR MR. PRESIDENT
Gabe Hudson, . . Knopf, $19 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-375-41395-7
The Gulf War may not be the sort of glamorous conflict that lends itself to shoot-'em-up war fiction, but the Middle East face-off does seem ideal fodder for the eight darkly comic, military gothic short stories in Hudson's first collection. "The Cure as I Found It" is a twisted yarn about a vet with Gulf War syndrome who finds peace only after confronting a Brooklyn neighborhood thug who killed his cat. "Cross Dresser" takes the form of a former POW's letter to his shrink after he switches bodies with his 13-year-old daughter to elude his Iraqi tormentors. The title story is a humorous ode to the power of biological warfare as a soldier begins to grow a third ear on his torso after returning home. In "Woman in Uniform," a soldier muses about a female soldier in his squad as well as his nymphomaniac ex-girlfriend while his unit becomes enmeshed in a My Lai–like incident. The best and most complex story is the wonderfully weird "Notes From a Bunker Along Highway #8," which deals with a soldier who saves a fallen comrade and suddenly deserts his unit, only to become trapped in a bunker with a discarded group of chimps. Hudson, a former marine reserves rifleman, displays a brilliantly macabre sense of humor, a fine ear for military and bureaucratic clichés and abundant compassion for his quirky, bruised characters. This is a fine debut that may remind readers of George Saunders.
Reviewed on: 07/01/2002
Open Ebook - 89 pages - 978-0-307-42546-1
Paperback - 156 pages - 978-0-375-71340-8