An American marine’s eloquent memoir

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Eat the Apple. By Matt Young. Bloomsbury; 272 pages; $26 and £14.99.

WHAT is it like to wage war? Correspondents and film-makers try to depict it, while veterans often struggle to convey the reality. Matt Young manages to answer better than most.

As an alienated young man he joined the Marines in 2005 and served three tours in Iraq during the bloodiest years of the American occupation. In “Eat the Apple” he offers a series of vignettes drawn from his experience, changing tone and voice with each. Sometimes he refers to himself as “this recruit”, at others he is “the boy”. Rarely does he write as “I”, more often referring to “we” and “us”. Here he narrates with cold distance, there he is close and grisly. Some pages are tender and wistful, others repulsive, still others funny.

The experimental, jagged account matches the disjointed life of the soldier: long periods of boredom, interspersed with terror and…Continue reading

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