Discussion topics – Fire & Forget

We will be focusing on two stories in Fire & Forget:

 Tips for a Smooth Transition, by Siobhan Fallon  (chapter 2)

Unlike the other stories in Fire and Forget, the soldier is threatened by something other than war.  The author said in an interview, “I want the reader to wonder who is more unhinged by the deployment/marital separation: the guilt-ridden wife or the returning soldier?”  Both the soldier and his wife struggle with conflicting expectations of homecoming.  Will they maintain their marriage or go their separate ways?   We, as readers, are also unsure how this story will end.

  • How would you characterize Colin, the returning soldier?
  • What was your reaction when he jumped into a pod of Galapagos sharks during their Hawaiian vacation?
  • As for Evie, did you want her to succeed in hiding her infidelity from her husband?
  • Her reaction to being surrounding by sharks was strikingly different.  Why?
  • Do you think this couple will make it?

– Redeployment, by Phil Klay (chapter 3)

In an interview , the author said that, “Leaving the Marine Corps was more disorienting than returning home.”  He found difficulty being around civilians after being surrounded by Marines.

  • How does that compare to your experience, or to the experiences of veterans you know? How did you/they  “decompress”?
  • Through his main character, the author expresses a lot of frustration about civilian apathy.  In the story he notes that shopping is how America fights back against the terrorist.  How do you think civilian citizens view the war?
  • The narrator starts the story “we shot dogs” and ends with the shooting of his beloved family pet.  Even though he says that “something in me is going to break if I do this,” he does it anyway. Were you surprised by the ending?

Several copies are available at the Schurz Library – call number PS648.W34 F57 2013.   We also have a few to give away!

Next Meeting – Monday, April 11

Join the next meeting of the Veterans Book Club on Monday, April 11, 5:30 -7:00 pm in the University Grill, Fireside Room.

We’ll be discussing Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War, edited by Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher, with a focus on two stories:

  • Redeployment by Phil Klay, 2014 National Book Award Winner in Fiction
  • Tips for a Smooth Transition by Siobhan Fallon (providing a perspective of an army wife)

Schurz Library – PS648.W34 F57 2013

We encourage you to bring family members.  Supervised activities for children will available. Free parking and refreshments provided.

Please RSVP to Rhonda Culbertson at rculbert@iusb.edu and mention the ages and any food allergies of children who may attend.

About Fire and Forget:

While the grand, noble causes of the past wars continue to capture our collective imaginations, the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been treated with greater ambivalence. Fire and Forget, a collection of short stories by authors who are also military veterans (or, in one case, a family member), captures the messiness of soldiering when the mission and endgame are unclear. Though fiction, each work reads true, filled with tension, fear, and anger. Readers are transported to desert checkpoints, ride along with vehicle convoys, and return home from combat to face an uncertain future. –Patty Wetli, Booklist