Monday, March 2, 2015

Fives and Twenty-fives by Michael Pitre


If you haven't already picked up new fiction from Iraq/Afghanistan war vets, I'd suggest starting with this one by Michael Pitre
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Michael Pitre served two tours in Iraq before coming home to resume his studies toward an MBA. His early interests in writing and history serve him well in this first novel. A Marine himself, Pitre weaves a narrative from the view point of American service members and an interpreter allied with the American forces, and sets the stage for questions around combat experiences and their effects.

The main character, Lieutenant Donavan, leads his Marines repairing but mainly clearing roads in Iraq of explosive devices. His personnel use the grid check of their five and twenty-five meter positions as a routine safety protocol upon entering an area to be cleared or upon exiting vehicles under attack. Their work enables Iraqi civilians as well as American support convoys safe access to and between cities during the conflict.

Donavan's interpreter, Kateb-- known in the field only as Dodge, is the son of a minor bureaucrat in Sadaam Hussein's government before the war. Kateb's entitlement, his education, has ironically led him to a strong love of Western music and a graduate thesis around themes found in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. His induction to Donavan's unit is relevant to the stress imposed by an Iraq increasingly intolerant of Western values.

Pitre's book conveys the work a day horrors of war and the upheaval of his characters' assumptions about civilization and personal identity.

For those of us who have not witnessed combat or its physical or mental effects, this book may be part of an increasingly necessary review.

Just lately the United States Congress passed The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Bill to support veterans who have had experiences that make it difficult to live in a civililian context.

In Lincoln County, Oregon, we have John Reed as our Veteran Service Officer. He can be reached at 541-574-6955 or by email through vets@co.lincoln.or.us .

--Sharon

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