Phil Klay‘s book Redeployment was awarded the 2014 National Book Award for fiction. In the style of The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam-war classic, Redeployment is a compilation of stories told from various perspectives of American soldiers involved in the Iraq war. Phil is a Marine Captain who served in Iraq’s Anbar province from January 2007 to February 2008, and writing the book allowed him to reflect on his war experiences and the experiences of his colleagues.
Photo of Phil, PhilKlay.com
In this episode we talk about his book, but also war stories as a genre, how war stories affect the ways our society thinks about war, and the light and dark tones that come with the territory.
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- Phil’s website: philklay.com
- Phil’s article for The Wall Street Journal, about how PTSD is used to stigmatize veterans and why veterans are worthy of respect. Written a year ago on May 23, 2014.
- Phil’s article for The New York Times where he explains why we shouldn’t say “I COULD never imagine what you’ve been through” to soldiers. Instead he suggests that we should use our own experiences to empathize with theirs.
- Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a novel written by Ben Fountain that works as a companion piece to Redeployment. Soon to be a motion picture directed by Ang Lee.
- Other related war stories include The Yellow Birds, written by Kevin Powers, and The Thin Red Line, directed by Terrence Malick.
- American Sniper is a good starting point to learn more about Chris Kyle’s story, but for an expanded view, I recommend reading the American Sniper book as well as American Wife, the book written by Chris’s wife, Taya Kyle, after Chris was killed.
- Art of Charm episode with Veteran Jon Davis where they talk about how we can help veterans transition to civilian life and why businesses should hire more of them.
- The Facebook page for Trent’s War, the short film I directed about a soldier battling PTSD.
There is no guarantee that these connections mean anything substantial (but honestly if you want a guarantee, you’re probably on the wrong page). They might be mere coincidences. Still, they are notable, are they not …
- Phil’s deployment happened during the year when my dad died, one of the most destabilizing experiences of my life. It was also when the Giants won the Super Bowl. That win was one of the inciting incidents that indirectly led to the event to which I alluded in the podcast.
- What It Is Like To Go To War, the book by Karl Marlantes, was also mentioned in the PTSD episode with Mac McLelland, which happened exactly a month ago. That interview was posted on April 23rd, the same day that Phil requested we do our interview.
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