Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker

Anatomy of a Soldier

Harry Parker

The device of using the inanimate equipment of warfare as narrative voices is a massive ask for the reader. You'll be pondering on its relentless effectiveness even as it swipes you into the brutality and comradeship of the military machine. The objectivity of objects throws into inverted relief the inhumanity of the best military objectives, and the human cost they inflict.

Extract

One summer, gunfire and explosions sounded in the distance. When the men now met they talked about the arrival of the foreign soldiers and their helicopters. They argued over the sale of a compound at the edge of the village were they had erected new watchtowers and walls. Their voices deepened as they discussed the shadow of the old government and the men who came from the mountains to fight the soldiers.
The family noticed the changes too. Whenever gunfire could be heard crackling in the distance they hid in the corner of the room. But this soon became normal: now they listened to work out how far away the danger was and often continued what they were doing.

Parallels
  • Man Down by Mark Ormrod
  • The Illuminations by Andrew O'Hagan
  • Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab