Review: These Heroic, Happy Dead



these happy heroicAbout the book: 

With his harrowing debut, Luke Mogelson provides an unsentimental, unflinching glimpse into the lives of those forever changed by war. Subtle links between these ten powerful stories magnify the consequences of combat for both soldiers and civilians, as the violence experienced abroad echoes through their lives in America.

Troubled veterans first introduced as criminals in “To the Lake” and “Visitors” are shown later in “New Guidance” and “Kids,” during the deployments that shaped their futures. A seemingly minor soldier in “New Guidance” becomes the protagonist of “A Human Cry,” where his alienation from society leads to a shocking confrontation. The fate of a hapless Gulf War veteran who reenlists in “Sea Bass” is revealed in “Peacetime,” the story of a New York City medic’s struggle with his inurement to calamity. A shady contractor job gone wrong in “A Beautiful Country” is a news item for a reporter in “Total Solar,” as he navigates the surreal world of occupied Kabul.  Shifting in time and narrative perspective—from the home front to active combat, between experienced leaders, flawed infantrymen, a mother, a child, an Afghan-American translator, and a foreign correspondent–these stories offer a multifaceted examination of the unexpected costs of war.
Here is an evocative, deep work that charts the legacy of an unprecedented conflict, and the burdens of those it touched. Written with remarkable empathy and elegance, These Heroic, Happy Dead heralds the arrival of an extraordinary new talent.

My Review:

For the second time in the last week, I decided to read and review a collection of short stories. This time it was These Heroic, Happy Dead by accomplished journalist and writer, Luke Mogelson. I have really enjoyed various works of war & military fiction and was hopeful I would enjoy these short stories, but I can’t say that I was completely “wowed” by them. 

Let me explain that the writing is beautiful and flawless. Mogelson’s characterization was vivid and complex. His descriptions were incredible and effortlessly drew me into the stories. Each story was unique in its own way some with very definitive endings and some that were more ambiguous, prompting me to draw my own conclusions. A few left me asking “what just happened,” where some were crystal clear. 

Being the spouse of a Veteran, there were many things that I was able to identify with, along with other things that were foreign to me, but overall, it left me feeling very depressed and dark. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting this collection to be full of funny, happy tales – but by the time I finished reading, I honestly wanted to go hide under the covers and curl up in the fetal position for the rest of the day. 

Luke Mogelson captured such different characters in a realistic light, and again, the writing was exquisite, but it was just too dark for me. I would recommend this for someone that’s is a fan of war/military fiction that is not put-off by heavy emotional content and is not looking for a light-hearted read. 

*Thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase These Heroic, Happy Dead on Amazon!


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