Thursday, August 7, 2014

Phil Klay

Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. After being discharged he went to Hunter College and received an MFA. His story “Redeployment” was originally published in Granta and is included in Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, the New York Daily News, Tin House, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012.

Redeployment is his first story collection.

From his Q & A with Kate Kellaway at the Observer:

You write powerfully about the difference between military and civilian life. What was it like for you returning to America from Iraq?

In Anbar province, horrific things happened. I lived near a surgical facility where they'd bring in wounded marines, civilians and insurgents. A marine injured by an insurgent and the insurgent who had injured him might come in together. What is bizarre is that, unlike in the first or second world war, you can take a plane and in a matter of hours be home. I found myself walking down Madison Avenue – beautiful, but there was this sense of estrangement. It was jarring. This was compounded after I decided to get out of the marines. I knew marines who had made the decision to go back – people serving time and time again. Here I was back in a comfortable life. I used to be part of this community where the stakes were life and death – a place where things of huge moral consequence were happening.

Your stories are full of disquiet about the way civilians respond to stories of war.

There is a lot of frustration about civilian apathy. As marines, we sign up for a job that can be very dangerous, we entrust ourselves to the US body politic in the hope they will hold leaders responsible. We fight in the trust that citizens will not keep an incompetent secretary of defence in charge. When you come back and find apathy, it is more than frustrating. Something deeply important you have been involved in is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue