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Working in a variety of fields - as a TV host, model, actor and teacher, to name a few, Robbie Reilly (also known as Rye Dano) makes his home in Tokyo, Japan.
S. E. Mann
on July 04, 2010 :
Central character Sgt Robert Briggs is on a mission in modern-day Afganistan where things are not what they seem. Protagonist and narrator Briggs is a divorced soldier with an ear infection and a pain in the neck. "Brig" is U.S. Marine-speak for "prison" and Briggs occupies a series of prisons in this story: first in the claustrophobic desert storm, then in the confined interior of the rescue biplane, and then in the infirmary supporting Corporal Mitch. The trials of war and the battlefield are interrupted halfway into the story by a small, but key aside from Briggs:
"...I'd have work to do, chores, when I was a kid and I'd be looking up at the stars. 'What do you see up there?' My mom used to ask me, in that loving, forgiving way only a mom can, when she'd catch me looking up at the sky on winter nights. There I'd be, before dinner, out on the porch, straddling the thick wooden railing and holding onto the whitewashed post, leaning backwards and out, head up toward the heavens, looking for something...."
This is a good narrative, reminiscent of Hemingway's early stories. It has momentum, and is technically very good--author clearly knows about the guns, airplanes, radios and other particulars of modern day and historical warfare. The writing is good, sometimes VERY good:
"The Rolls Royce power plant sprang into sudden symphony of noise and smoke like somebody poured ice cold water onto boiling rocks and they instantly turned into a roaring grizzly bear on his hind legs."
"A small dark line was visible like a pen mark on a large wrinkled sheet."
The character development is excellent on the whole, and the dialogue usually rings true. It needs to be made clear that Group Captain C. Aubrey Haversham, is Rupert Brooke and not Terry-Thomas. Without care, a character like Haversham quickly drifts into stereotype.
Night Vision: Is it gear lost on a modern battlefield in a sandstorm, or is it a metaphor for a sight glimpsed in the night sky from a boyhood porch in Illinois way back when? In either case, it is a brilliant short story that belongs in the "New Yorker" or "Atlantic Monthly" or "New Republic". I enjoyed reading it.
Literary review by Stan Hudgins
(reviewed the day of purchase)