Bring Out the Dog: Book summary and reviews of Bring Out the Dog by Will Mackin

Bring Out the Dog

Stories

by Will Mackin

Bring Out the Dog by Will Mackin X
Bring Out the Dog by Will Mackin
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2018
    192 pages
    Genre: Short Stories/Essays

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Book Summary

Told without a trace of false bravado and with a keen, Barry Hannah–like sense of the absurd, Bring Out the Dog manages to capture the tragedy and heroism, the degradation and exultation, in the smallest details of war.

The eleven stories in Will Mackin's mesmerizing debut collection draw from his many deployments with a special operations task force in Iraq and Afghanistan. They began as notes he jotted on the inside of his forearm in grease pencil and, later, as bullet points on the torn-off flap of an MRE kit. Whenever possible he incorporated those notes into his journals. Years later, he used those journals to write this book.

Together, the stories in Bring Out the Dog offer a remarkable portrait of the absurdity and poetry that define life in the most elite, clandestine circles of modern warfare. It is a world of intense bonds, ancient credos, and surprising compassion - of success, failure, and their elusive definitions. Moving between settings at home and abroad, in vivid language that reflects the wonder and discontent of war, Mackin draws the reader into a series of surreal, unsettling, and deeply human episodes: In "Crossing the River No Name," a close call suggests that miracles do exist, even if they are in brutally short supply; in "Great Circle Route Westward Through Perpetual Night," the death of the team's beloved dog plunges them into a different kind of grief; in "Kattekoppen," a man struggles to reconcile his commitments as a father and his commitments as a soldier; and in "Baker's Strong Point," a man whose job it is to pull things together struggles with a loss of control.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [S]pellbinding, adrenaline-fueled...in the whole unforgettable collection, the men fighting this war know better than anyone how tragic each loss is." - Publishers Weekly

"A well-plotted group of small fictions for readers wishing a feel for the reality of recent U.S. ground wars." - Library Journal

"A near-miraculous, brilliant debut." - George Saunders, Man Booker Prize–winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo

"In one exquisitely crafted story after the next, Will Mackin maps the surreal psychological terrain of soldiers in a perpetual war." - Phil Klay, National Book Award–winning author of Redeployment

"Good stories that deal with war must deal with the extremes of war: heroic altruism and murderous selfishness, piercing beauty and disgusting ugliness. Mackin hits all the notes and all the notes sound true. These stories are right at the top with the best I've ever read." - Karl Marlantes, New York Times bestselling author of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

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Author Information

Will Mackin

Will Mackin, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, served in Iraq and Afghanistan. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, and Tin House, and has been anthologized in the Best American Short Stories 2014. Originally from New Jersey, he now lives in New Mexico with his wife and two children.

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