cover image All the Ruined Men

All the Ruined Men

Bill Glose. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-27988-0

Combat veteran Glose debuts with an emotionally charged linked collection about a squad of American soldiers trying to survive combat and its aftermath after tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. “In the Early Cocksure Days” sees a sergeant trying to resolve a quarrel between two squadmates in Iraq using improvised lances and camels. A soldier who was wounded by an IED finds that his facial disfigurement in civilian life is actually an advantage while playing high stakes poker in “Dead Man’s Hand.” In “The Dead Aren’t Allowed to Walk,” set in Virginia Beach, Va., Curtis Bradshaw sees the officer responsible for a friendly fire incident that killed his friend, and now Curtis contemplates revenge. In the best story, “Penultimate Dad,” a man tries to use his military training to make contact with his estranged teenage daughter. The closer, “Words Outlive the Tongue,” in which all the squad members’ voices are heard, offers a devastating summation of everything. Glose writes knowingly about the emotions that assault soldiers coming home from a combat zone and confronting a world that no longer makes sense to them, making for a powerful statement on the war that is waged once soldiers return home. This sterling collection stands with Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. (Aug.)