Phil Klay Sheds Light on Actualities of War

First Installment of the Literary Arts Series

By Katy Temple and Francisco Camacho

Phil Klay’s book, Redeployment, gives his viewpoint of the actuality of the mental effects war has on a person in addition to the reflection of his opinion regarding the nobility of war, or in this case– the lack of nobility. The US Marine Corp veteran and New York Times bestselling author participated in an installment of the Literary Arts Series at BCC by reading from his book of fictional short stories based on his deployment in Iraq.

The short story “Redeployment” originally appeared in Granta’s summer 2011 issue, and the collection has since grown into the book that was published in 2014 with 12 compelling short stories in a digestible 280 pages .

Redeployment has racked up just as many recognitions as it has fans, being named Best Book of the Year by Newsweek, Time, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, Slate, Buzzfeed, Daily Beast, Grantland and The Huffington Post.

After a quick brunch in the Technology building of the Paramus campus, Klay read excerpts from the title story starting with, “We shot dogs. Not by accident. We did it on purpose, and we called it Operation Scooby. I’m a dog person, so I thought about that a lot.”

The story continues with Sergeant Price returning home from his tour in Iraq. The short and choppy sentence structure reflects the disoriented thought process of Sergeant Price  that is described during his trip home. The first person narration in conjunction with the writing style makes the story read as if you are truly in the Sergeant’s state of mind.

The transition from deployment to civilian life is difficult. The Sergeant draws endless contrasts between the two.

He writes, “You’ve got a rifle between your knees, and so does everyone else. Some Marines got M9 pistols, but they take away your bayonets because you aren’t allowed to have knives on an airplanes,” drawing attention to the irony and technicalities of leaving the mindframe of being a member of the armed forces.

When asked about his own transition from deployment to civilian life, Klay said, “The Marine Corps has that really intense structure around you and you have a mission and a purpose. So when you leave and you go back in the civilian world there’s like a period of adjustment, regardless of whether you’ve been to war or not. So it’s like what is my identity, who am I. In the Marine Corps you know who everybody is…”

Klay also read two more excerpts from Redeployment as well as an excerpt from his upcoming novel. He then opened the floor up to questions.

When asked if Klay would want his own children joining the military, he  said he would be proud of them as he sees a nobility and honor in military service .

However, he would also warn them of how the military is often misused and servicemen are left to go fight an aimless war.

He said, “Just the president handles it, they make all the decisions, they don’t push a lot of information out into the public and Congress doesn’t do much oversight. And I think that is going to prevent strategic thinking and it’s going to prevent hard choices. You can’t win wars or end wars without hard choices.”

Klay aims to promote a system of accountability so that the government does not misuse their military resources or send members of our military into situations that lead to unnecessary horrors of war. Klay’s personal views on war are evident despite the stories being fictional.

To keep up with Phil Klay and his future releases and appearances, you can follow Klay on twitter @philklay, visit, or tune into his podcast, Manifesto! A Podcast, on Itunes.

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