Keith Staskiewicz
October 05, 2012 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Yellow Birds

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
publisher
Little, Brown and Company
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

In his intense debut, Powers turns his experiences as a U.S. Army machine gunner in Iraq into an angry, searching ode to what his protagonist calls ”a s— ty little war.” Much of the story takes place inside the burdened mind of Private Bartle, who obsesses over a tragic incident whose details aren’t divulged until the end. The Yellow Birds hops through time disjointedly, effectively mirroring Bartle’s shaken sense of consciousness. While Powers occasionally lapses into abstraction to fill the spaces in his relatively sparse plot, he effectively shows how, for these soldiers, war isn’t hell. It’s purgatory. B+

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