Excerpt from Eat the Apple by Matt Young, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Eat the Apple

by Matt Young

Eat the Apple by Matt Young X
Eat the Apple by Matt Young
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 272 pages

    Feb 2019, 272 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Lewis
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Print Excerpt

Choose Your Own Adventure

IN FEBRUARY 2005 AT an armed forces recruitment center situated between a Pier 1 Imports and a Walmart, in the middle of a strip mall of miscellanea, a Marine Corps recruiter goes over your Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and says you scored high and to take your pick of jobs.

To decide that maybe this was all a mistake, turn around, and walk out of the recruiter's office with no hard feelings, and instead continue your menial-labor job and join the union and marry the girl you're dating and have kids and buy a house in the Midwest and get divorced and hate your job and your ex-wife and never speak to your kids and develop a drinking problem no one wants to talk about because you insist you don't have a problem and burn bridges with anyone who insinuates said drinking problem exists and start voting against your best interests and think maybe it really is the immigrants' fault and the liberals' fault and buy a bumper sticker that reads AMERICA: LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT and believe it, stop reading and go about your day.

To join the United States Marine Corps infantry, proceed to the next page.

You've chosen the United States Marine Corps infantry based on one thing: You got drunk last night and crashed your car into a fire hydrant sometime in the early morning and think— because your idea of masculinity is severely twisted and damaged by the male figures in your life and the media with which you surround yourself—that the only way to change is the self-flagellation achieved by signing up for war.

You will ship out for recruit training to San Diego, California, in April 2005. Your family—broken and distant—will remain silent as to your decision. Only an ex-girlfriend, with whom you're still in contact, will beg you not to go with words of oil and death and futility. You'll wish you'd listened. Your experience will not be what you think. You wear glasses. Heroes don't wear glasses. Clark Kent wears glasses— he's an alter ego, an alien's perception of the weakness, ineffectuality, and cowardice of the human race. All the men who wear glasses in movies are expendable: They don't get the girl; they don't redeem themselves. They are the loners or villains.

You will become the villain.

When a drill instructor steps on your glasses you will be able to do nothing except look through broken portholes for weeks. When the brainstrap holding the glasses to your face rubs the skin behind your ears raw, you will not be able to remove them—without them you would be blind. Because you didn't think about the need to wear glasses they will come to stand for everything you do not know, and for that you will hate them. You will replace them with contacts, hiding the problem, faking your way through it. No one will see them, but they will be there.

You will be exploded and shot at and made a fool of and hated and feared and loved and fellated and fucked and lonely and tired and suicidal.

Because you feel abandoned by your father you will look for a father figure in a sea of similarly uniformed men and you will find many. These men will berate you and beat you and break you, but they won't leave you. Years from meeting them you will not be able to sleep at night as you replay the ways in which you let them down, or might have let them down, in your head. You will lie in bed and your face will grow hot and your heart will thud in your chest and your skin will crawl and you will feel ashamed. Because you are a son to those men and shame is what sons feel in the presence of their fathers, and those fathers will be with you always. You will be a father to other men like you. They will suffer the same fate.

You will estrange yourself from your mother. You will blame her for your choices. Your knees will ache and nerves in your neck will misfire. You will break knuckles in drunken brawls and suffer crippling bouts of depression. You will deploy to Iraq and redeploy to Iraq and then volunteer to deploy to Iraq a third time to keep from facing your family, your fiancé e, and reality. You will end your three-year engagement in a call center at Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq. You will sit in a chair at a cubby that reminds you of middle school. A black pay phone hangs on the back wall, and when the line goes dead you will feel as though your entire body is at a loss for feeling.

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Excerpted from Eat the Apple by Matt Young. Copyright © 2018 by Matt Young. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury USA. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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