"Fire and Forget" edited by graduate student Roy Scranton

Fire and Forget cover

“These are wars that America is so determined not to see that we banned images of soldiers’ coffins from our nightly broadcasts, as if the clean lines of a flag-draped coffin would somehow convey the disturbing ugliness of the exercise of military power. The writers in this anthology don’t just show you the dead, they put you in the minds and hearts of the men and women who fought on the ground.”

—Colum McCann, from the Foreword

Fire and Forget


Short Stories from the Long War


Edited by Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher


Long after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end, their effects will continue to ripple across foreign policy, American culture, and, most profoundly, among those who served. We’ve been given snapshots of war in movies, television broadcasts, and news reports. But Fire and Forget provides a new perspective through stories by fifteen talented writers who were directly involved in the recent conflicts—front line soldiers, staff officers, and a military spouse.

Edited by Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher, and featuring a foreword by National Book Award winner Colum McCann, Fire and Forget captures the full spectrum of war and its aftermath—from Fort Hood to Fallujah, from humvees to family sedans. By putting readers in the boots—and the minds—of their characters, the authors convey the “truth” of war in a way that only fiction can.

Through a lieutenant dealing with the shooting of an Iraqi boy by an American soldier, we get a glimpse into the murky “fog of war” in Roman Skaskiw’s “Television.” Brian Turner, whose poem “The Hurt Locker” inspired the movie, uses a lost patrol to explore the lurking promise of death in “The Wave That Takes Us Under.”  Meanwhile, in “Tips for a Smooth Transition,” Siobhan Fallon’s narrator struggles to follow her own advice on being a supportive military wife. Phil Klay takes us into the tortured mind of a recently returned Marine, where a shopping mall still echoes an IED-ridden, insurgent-infested street in Fallujah in “Redeployment.” David Abrams, author of Fobbit (a 2012 New York Times Notable Book), reveals the impersonal, systematic way the military mourns dead soldiers by describing a military funeral in “Roll Call.” Via a pair of bored soldiers on permanent guard duty, Roy Scranton’s “Red Steel India” shows us how petty, cruel, and dumb war’s day-to-day face can be. With “And Bugs Don’t Bleed,” Matt Gallagher digs into the isolation and frustration of readjustment that leads one soldier to violence. And My War author Colby Buzzell’s “Play the Game” describes an infantryman who returns home to fight another battle—finding a job.

Adding an important perspective to our collective conversation about war and its aftermath, the pieces in this collection are the voice of a new generation of veterans who have served in the longest sustained period of conflict in our nation’s history.

Roy Scranton, an Iraq veteran,was an artilleryman in the Army. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in Boston Review, The Massachusetts Review, Denver Quarterly, LIT, New Letters,the New York Times, and elsewhere. Matt Gallagher, a former Army captain who served fifteen months in Iraq, is Senior Fellow at the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the author of the war memoir Kaboom, published in 2010 by Da Capo Press.


February 15, 2013    $15.99   Paperback Original    Fiction / Anthology    256 pages    ISBN 978-0-306-82176-9


Advance Praise for Fire and Forget


“Searing stories from the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, and the USA by warrior writers. Fire and Forget is about not forgetting. It is a necessary collection, necessary to write, necessary to read.”

—E.L. Doctorow

“I’ve been waiting for this book for a decade. I laughed, shouted, and cried while reading this kaleidoscopic collection. So many facets of war and the people who do our fighting are covered here. Fire and Forget is a literary history of this latest period of American wars. It’s a profound and telling work of art.”

—Anthony Swofford, author of the New York Times bestseller Jarhead

“A resonant, moving collection of stories from writers who know firsthand about the incongruous beauty and constant tragedy of war.”

—Nathaniel Fick, author of the New York Times bestseller One Bullet Away

Fire and Forget is a diverse anthology on our long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan united by the extraordinary talents of its authors. These stories are exceptional.”

—Kevin Powers, author of Yellow Birds

“Captures the messiness of soldiering when the mission and endgame are unclear. Though fiction, each work reads true, filled with tension, fear, and anger. Readers are transported to desert checkpoints, ride along with vehicle convoys, and return home from combat to face an uncertain future.”