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The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
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The Yellow Birds (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Kevin Powers

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1,067977,843 (3.8)176
Member:Jim53
Title:The Yellow Birds
Authors:Kevin Powers
Info:Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (2012), Edition: Export/Travel ed, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, American, 21st century, war, Iraq, meetup, read 2013

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The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (2012)

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» See also 176 mentions

English (89)  German (2)  Danish (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (96)
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
I agree with the comments about the author's writing style being very beautiful, but confusing. It felt like trying to read a 200 page poem. At times I wondered if the author even knew what he meant. I've read some books where the metaphors are amazing and clever, leaving me speechless, because they are so spot on. This author didn't come close to that level of mastery, but he tried awfully hard to make you think he did. The book left me feeling as duped as the people who nominated it for the National Book Award. ( )
  valorrmac | Aug 19, 2015 |
Extraordinary. Reminds me of "The Things They Carried" The author is a poet and writes beautifully. I devoured the book and only stopped for necessary sleep. It is that good. ( )
  jaylcee | Apr 19, 2015 |
Before I had even heard of this book, I listened to Kevin Powers speak at a recent writer's conference and I was impressed with his frank attitude about the war along with his emphasis on the psychological impact of the young men who come home from it. I bought the book and asked for his signature without knowing much about the story except for the basic elements discussed in a group setting. All I can say is that this book is relevant far beyond its Iraqi/US setting. It will speak to anyone who has endured psychological trauma. I read it in two sittings and only stopped because my eyes would no longer stay open. Thank you, Kevin, for writing it. ( )
  JenBurge | Mar 20, 2015 |
With The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers joins the ranks of Thucydides, Erich Maria Remarque, Stephen Crane, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Herr, Ron Kovic, Gustav Hasford and -- no doubt -- a whole slew of others whose names I simply don't know or have already forgotten.

His concluding chapter shows him to be the poet he (sometimes) is. And why is this at all important? Because, as no less a literary luminary than François Mauriac once said, "I believe that only poetry counts ... A great novelist is first of all a great poet."

Why, then, only four stars? Because Kevin's novel is a tad too cerebral. And while I have nothing against 'cerebral,' a lot of it is hard to follow while riding to and from work on a subway train.

That said, if you can find a quiet spot in your garden somewhere far from 'the madding crowd,' I heartily recommend this novel. It is literature in the purest and best sense.

RRB
( )
  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
I am, giving this 5 stars because, It was a book that all of "us" in our ordinary sweet, unwounded banality of lives, who send our young men and young women to war should read. I don't know if this was a "true" story of events unfolding, but it certainly was a story full of emotion. Reading or watching CNN during the 1st days of the war in Iraq, I remember being totally glued to the TV hoping and with dread, to maybe get a glimpse of my nephew who was deployed there. Hearing the numbers of our fallen soldiers, reminding myself that I would hear 1st before Nancy Grace, if it was my loved one listed as the fallen soldier of the day at the end of her show. Thanking God everyday, that my nephew was spared. Yellow Birds and Kevin Powers, Bart, Murph and Sterling will be embedded in me for a long time! ( )
  booklovers2 | Oct 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
A remarkable, beautifully understated, powerful, yet poised novel.
 
The novel moves, fitfully, through Virginia and Iraq and Germany and New Jersey and Kentucky, from 2003 to 2009. Recalling the war, Bartle says, is “like putting a puzzle together from behind: the shapes familiar, the picture quickly fading, the muted tan of the cardboard backing a tease at wholeness and completion.” This serves the story in two ways. First, it turns readers into active participants, enlisting them in a sense as co-authors who fit together the many memories and guess at what terrible secret lies in wait, the truth behind Murphy’s death. Because they lean forward instead of back, because they participate in piecing together the puzzle, they are made more culpable.

Then too, the fractured structure replicates the book’s themes. Like a chase scene made up of sentences that run on and on and ultimately leave readers breathless, or like a concert description that stops and starts, that swings and sways, that makes us stamp our feet and clap our hands — the nonlinear design of Powers’s novel is a beautifully brutal example of style matching content. War destroys. It doesn’t just rip through bone and muscle, stone and steel; it fragments the mind as a fist to a mirror might create thousands of bloodied, glittering shards.
 
...and while few will have expected the war in Iraq to bring forth a novel that can stand beside All Quiet on the Western Front or The Red Badge of Courage, The Yellow Birds does just that, for our time, as those books did for theirs.
added by Milesc | editThe Guardian, John Burnside (Aug 31, 2012)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kevin Powersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abelsen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
A yellow bird   With a yellow bill   Was perched upon   My windowsill     I lured him in   With a piece of bread   And then I smashed   His fucking head.. ----- Traditional U.S. Army Marching Cadence ------
To be ignorant of evils to come, and forgetfull of evils past, is a mercifull provision in nature, whereby we digest the mixture of our few and eveil dayes, and our delivered senses not relapsing into cutting remembrances, our sorrows are not kept raw by the edge of repetitions.   ----- Sir Thomas Browne
Dedication
For my wife
Στη γυναίκα μου
First words
The war tried to kill us in the spring.
Quotations
If you get back to the States in your head before your ass is there too, then you are a fucking dead man.
It reminded me of talking, how what is said is never quite what was thought, and what is heard is never quite what was said, it wasn't much in the way of comfort, but everything has a little failure in it, and we still make do somehow.
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Book description
Bartle , 21 ans , est soldat en Irak à Al Tafar. Depuis l'entraînement , lui et Murph , 18 an sont inseparables . Bartle a fait la promesse de le ramener vivant au pays . Une promesse qu'il n'a pas pu tenir ... Murphy hante dès lors ses rêves de soldat et , plus tard de veteran.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316219363, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, Debut Spotlight, September 2012: With The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers introduces himself as a writer of prodigious talent and ambition. The novel opens in 2004, when two soldiers, 21-year-old Bartle and the teenaged Murphy, meet in boot camp on the eve of their deployment to Iraq. Bartle, bound by a promise to Murphy's mother to guide him home safely, takes the young private under his wing as they move through the bloody conflict that "rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer." Powers, an Iraq veteran, eyes the casual violence of war with a poet's precision but without romanticism, moving confidently between scenes of blunt atrocity and almost hallucinatory detachment with Hemingway-like economy and prose that shimmers like desert heat. Compact and emotionally intense, The Yellow Birds joins a maturing and impressive collection of Iraq War literature--both memoir and fiction--that includes Brian Castner's The Long Walk and Ben Fountain's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. --Jon Foro

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In the midst of a bloody battle in the Iraq War, two soldiers, bound together since basic training, do everything to protect each other from both outside enemies and the internal struggles that come from constant danger.

(summary from another edition)

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