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The Road Ahead: Fiction from the Forever War

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These masterfully crafted stories from writers who have served reflect the entire breadth of human emotion—loss, anger, joy, love, fear, and courage—and the evolving nature of what has become America’s “Forever War.” From debut writers to experienced contributors whose work has been featured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker, this exceptional collectio These masterfully crafted stories from writers who have served reflect the entire breadth of human emotion—loss, anger, joy, love, fear, and courage—and the evolving nature of what has become America’s “Forever War.” From debut writers to experienced contributors whose work has been featured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker, this exceptional collection promises to be the definitive fictional look at the aftereffects of the Iraq and Afghan Wars, and will resonate with the reader long after the final page. Including stories by: Elliot Ackerman, Benjamin Busch, Brandon Caro, Maurice Decaul, Teresa Fazio, Thomas Gibbons Neff, Aaron Gwyn, Alex Horton, Matt Robinson, Kristen L. Rouse, Chris Wolfe, Kayla M. Williams, Brandon Willitts, and many others. 


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These masterfully crafted stories from writers who have served reflect the entire breadth of human emotion—loss, anger, joy, love, fear, and courage—and the evolving nature of what has become America’s “Forever War.” From debut writers to experienced contributors whose work has been featured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker, this exceptional collectio These masterfully crafted stories from writers who have served reflect the entire breadth of human emotion—loss, anger, joy, love, fear, and courage—and the evolving nature of what has become America’s “Forever War.” From debut writers to experienced contributors whose work has been featured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker, this exceptional collection promises to be the definitive fictional look at the aftereffects of the Iraq and Afghan Wars, and will resonate with the reader long after the final page. Including stories by: Elliot Ackerman, Benjamin Busch, Brandon Caro, Maurice Decaul, Teresa Fazio, Thomas Gibbons Neff, Aaron Gwyn, Alex Horton, Matt Robinson, Kristen L. Rouse, Chris Wolfe, Kayla M. Williams, Brandon Willitts, and many others. 

30 review for The Road Ahead: Fiction from the Forever War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andria Williams

    Beautiful, a little scary, sometimes experimental and often quite surprising, 'The Road Ahead' is a collection of original fiction from some of the best of the veteran writing community. No two stories are alike. Each one has its own feel, and got my thoughts turning in a totally different way. It's a beautiful book from cover to cover, with gorgeous (and sometimes darkly funny) interior illustrations by Benjamin Busch. Beautiful, a little scary, sometimes experimental and often quite surprising, 'The Road Ahead' is a collection of original fiction from some of the best of the veteran writing community. No two stories are alike. Each one has its own feel, and got my thoughts turning in a totally different way. It's a beautiful book from cover to cover, with gorgeous (and sometimes darkly funny) interior illustrations by Benjamin Busch.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susanne Aspley

    I LOVED this book, and here is my review I wrote for my own blog that I thought I would share, The Road Ahead: Fiction from the Forever War, edited by Adrian Bonenberger and Brian Castner, foreword by Roxana Robinson, cover photo and interior illustrations by Benjamin Busch. 368 pages. Pegasus, 2017. Full of hauntings and hope, God and ghosts, The Road Ahead: Fiction from the Forever War, is a remarkable collection of 24 short stories written by some of the best authors of modern war literature, I LOVED this book, and here is my review I wrote for my own blog that I thought I would share, The Road Ahead: Fiction from the Forever War, edited by Adrian Bonenberger and Brian Castner, foreword by Roxana Robinson, cover photo and interior illustrations by Benjamin Busch. 368 pages. Pegasus, 2017. Full of hauntings and hope, God and ghosts, The Road Ahead: Fiction from the Forever War, is a remarkable collection of 24 short stories written by some of the best authors of modern war literature, all whom are veterans. If Holden Caulfield returned from war, he would be the veteran in Christopher Paul Wolfe story, Another Brother’s Conviction. Back in New York City, the veteran is in a corner store with a white one woman, a Dominican, a black man just released from Rikers and the Arabic shop keeper. For example, this amazing passage: “She eases up to Akhs counter and before she places her order, she stares at me like, ‘Who the fuck are you?’ only to see me staring back at her like ‘Who the fuck are you?’ and somehow through one f those strange unwritten rules of New York nonverbal communication, our two ‘Who the fuck are yous’ seem to cancel each other out.” The story continues, and we realize the veteran returned from war with a self inflicted moral injury. The veteran is left with his own conviction, or lack there of. In Brown Bird by Shannon Huffman Polson, war is an equal opportunity tormenter. A female veteran is back home at a new job. However, she cannot forget the death of a beloved sister-in-arms. The Church, by PJ Frederick, presents a sentence of words that should never be strung together in the English language but they are. Absurd and uncomfortably funny, the result of a suicide bomber. “We had three bomber’s heads but only one hand, which meant someone had to find the five others sprinkled amongst civilian bits.” In Brian Castner's, The Wild Hunt, (spoiler alert) I flipped back the pages to find the sentence that marked the transitioning from life to death. I think when the operator says, ’You’re going home,’ is the moment is soul leaves his body, hovers around while trying to make sense. To keep fighting, gloriously, larger than life, march on and conquer. Finally, the veteran’s father appears, and says, “Micky…all is forgiven. you are welcome home anytime.” Micky still lingers, refusing to pass over, and answers, “Dad I have things to do. My squad needs me.” Finally, his grandfather, a deceased WWII vet, reassures him. “I want to tell you about the war Micky…Come walk with me.” Finally the soldier lets go, now knowing it’s safe and it’s time. Now I have no idea if this is what Castner had in mind when he wrote this beautiful story. When the writer releases his or her story into the world, the reader may interpret something completely different than what he/she intends. Nonetheless, that’s what I took from it and for that I thank him. In Funeral Conversation, by Nate Bethea, the main character, LT Longo, my new hero, wins the hearts and minds of a Afghan villagers in the only way that they will understand. He beats up the village elder. Prior, his platoon sergeant flat out told his higher command on the radio that it was “not a good idea” to continue. The higher shamed the sergeant. Longo has not time for that, not his right hand NCO. People do snap and LT Longo did. Some readers may interpret the officer abandoning his professionalism or discrediting himself, however, I think most will read he does the exact opposite. He kept his men safe and maintained his NCO’s dignity. The platoon was not attacked that night, and the respect he did earn from his men and the villagers in the end justifies his means. Salt, by Colin Halloran, explores the tastes of war, and what wearing the US military represents. “They weren’t targeting me, not really. The Taliban or whoever they worked for didn’t give a shit about some kid from Upstate. They probably didn’t even know what Upstate is. They were targeting the idea of me, or what they though was the idea of me, of the uniform. In war, you can’t take death threats personally.” After the obligatory “Thank you for your service,” the first question is often, “So what was it like?” Brandon Caro, in his tragicomedy, The Morgan House, answers that question, revealing the remarkable bond that veterans share, even though never serving together. “Oh yeah?” he barked, part condescending, part curious “What was that like? Afghanistan?” “It was hot,” I answered, and he laughed, and rolled his back a moment. Benjamin Busch, in his Into the Land of Dogs, a Marine who walks out of the recovery ward once back at the hospital in Texas and finds himself back in Afghanistan, carrying the helmet filled with the head of his dead pilot. It’s magical realism at it’s finest. Two stories provide a snapshot of the personal lives of of civilians in-country. In Pawns, by Kristin Rouse, is about a Afghani truck driver, ‘outside the wire’ waiting in line to deliver supplies to the American base. Maurice Emerson Decaul’s Death of time, is told from a teen girl who is captured by the ‘Outsiders’ and used as a sex slave. Like any anthology, written by men and women with different styles and techniques, readers will not connect with all stories. I thought several were out of place in this otherwise high quality collection. However, if you like one particular story, you can easily go on to read the author’s other work. Many have acclaimed full length novels. Green on Blue: A Novel 2016, by Elliot Ackerman Dust to Dust: A Memoir, 2013, by Benjamin Busch, Afghan Post, 2014, by Adrian Bonenberger, Old Silk Road, 2015, by Brandon Caro. The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows, 2013, and All the Ways We Kill and Die, 2016, by Brian Castner, A Hard and Heavy Thing, 2016, by Matthew Hefti Love my Rifle More than You, 2006, by Kayla Williams

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Tennis

    Great collection of fiction from the veteran perspective which is a great thing to see considering so many people I run into think the one or two books written by recent vets that have attained superstar status speak for all veterans. Phil Klay and Chris Kyle are both veterans of the recent wars but the similarities of their experiences end there. This collection highlights that, representing men and women across different ethnicities, job specialties, from enlisted to officer and all branches o Great collection of fiction from the veteran perspective which is a great thing to see considering so many people I run into think the one or two books written by recent vets that have attained superstar status speak for all veterans. Phil Klay and Chris Kyle are both veterans of the recent wars but the similarities of their experiences end there. This collection highlights that, representing men and women across different ethnicities, job specialties, from enlisted to officer and all branches of military service. Great read and highly recommend it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Great work if I say so myself.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    3.5 stars. Some stand out stories and some that were not as good.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Frint

    Some of the stories are very good and fleshed out, some are written less well. Come into each with a fresh perspective and take your time to finish them. Overall I did enjoy the frequent fever-dream style writing though.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul Womack

    A good collection of short stories, some with points of identification and others less so. But I assume that these writers, like me, understand in metaphorical as well as literal ways the war(s) last forever. Sadly my copy was missing about 30 pages, and so until a replacement is found I really haven't finished it. A good collection of short stories, some with points of identification and others less so. But I assume that these writers, like me, understand in metaphorical as well as literal ways the war(s) last forever. Sadly my copy was missing about 30 pages, and so until a replacement is found I really haven't finished it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jim Higgins

    A distinctly varied collection of short fiction by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Olga

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ted

  11. 4 out of 5

    Eric Chandler

  12. 5 out of 5

    William Savage

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liam

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paula Kennedy

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patty

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  17. 4 out of 5

    David

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  19. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  20. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan Fallon

  21. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aidan Gowland

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  25. 4 out of 5

    Keith Thornhill

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

  27. 4 out of 5

    Corbyn

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bob Cope

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Eisler

  30. 5 out of 5

    Adin Dobkin

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