Saturday, January 24, 2015

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 Buzzfeed Q & A with Jen Percy:

Jennifer Percy: Can you talk about any complications you came across while transforming autobiographical or overheard experiences into fiction? And why did you make the choice to write fiction, especially using multiple narrators?

Phil Klay: It’s the best way I knew how to think about certain issues. I came back with all these questions, questions that could only be answered by exploring the experiences of contractors, soldiers, chaplains, girlfriends, etc. Writing fiction was a way to take the ideas that troubled me or confused me and put them under pressure. When I returned to NYC I came from a place where there were horrific things happening — and not to me, I had a mild deployment — but nightmares were common in Iraq at that time. So you come back, and you go from walking through TQ Surgical where you have Marines, civilians, insurgents, all terribly injured, and then two days later you’re walking down Madison Avenue in New York City and there’s zero sense of war. And when you get out of the Marine Corps you’re no longer in a community where conflict is vital. It’s such an abstraction. And yet you know that there’s a continuing world of horror going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Things of incredible importance overseas. And also here on the home front, as vets try to transition back. So the questions started coming up: How do we deal with veterans? What does the war mean to us?

I’m not the same person I was when started. I remember early on a friend of mine pointed out to me that...[read on]
Redeployment is on Jeff Somer's list of seven of the best recent books that give an honest account of war.

--Marshal Zeringue