Tuesday’s post about Veterans Day, the annual John Tyler Community College Veterans Day Celebration, and military/veteran themed books brings us to today’s Fiction Friday. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, a graduate of VCU and a Richmond native, has received much attention including a feature in Parade Magazine and a National Book Award nomination.
Although the story has been told many times—two friends meet in basic training, are sent to war, one of the friends dies—The Yellow Birdsgives the familiar tale a new voice. From the much praised opening sentence (“The war tried to kill us in the spring.”), to a description of the sounds (“something ordinary and miraculous about the strange wailing”), to the casual acceptance of death (“nothing seemed more natural than some getting killed”) debut author Powers puts the reader into the mind of Pvt. John Bartle an ordinary soldier from Richmond, Virginia. Moving back and forth through time, Powers reveals the horrors Bartle and his fellow soldiers witness and the massive task of reestablishing themselves in civilian society while carrying those memories. Trying to reconcile the inhumanity of a war zone Bartle struggles to maintain his reason. The Yellow Birds has been compared to such war classics as All Quiet on the Western Front and The Things They Carried.
The Yellow Birds 230 pages