Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War

Segment 1: From Baghdad to Brooklyn, from Kabul to Fort Hood.

Our guests on this edition of The Doug Noll show are Matt Gallagher and Roy Scranton, authors of the book Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War.


Their website describes the book: “The stories aren’t pretty and they aren’t for the faint of heart. They are gritty, haunting, shocking and unforgettable. This anthology brings us a chorus of powerful storytellers – some of the first bards from our recent wars, emerging voices and new talents – telling the kind of panoramic truth that only fiction can offer. What makes these stories even more remarkable is that all of them are written by men and women whose lives were directly engaged in the wars — soldiers, Marines, and an army spouse. Featuring a forward by National Book Award-winner Colum McCann, this anthology spans every era of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from Baghdad to Brooklyn, from Kabul to Fort Hood.”


Segment 2: Raw Intensity and Deep Emotional Investment.

Matt and Roy met in New York while at a veterans writing workshop at New York University. There is a small community of veterans in New York, and even smaller community of vets who write. A few folks at the writing workshop broke out and started brainstorming about what to do with the amazing stories. Matt and Roy felt there were a lot of memoirs on the market but very few fiction short stories about war. Fiction makes it possible for the reader to make a deep emotional investment that might be more difficult with non-fiction war stories. There is a raw intensity in many of the stories. Most of the writers are under 40 and are recently back from serving.


Segment 3: A Call for Submissions.

To solicit submissions they cast a wide net. They talked to people they knew, they sent out emails to veterans writing groups, they reached out across the country to different veterans organizations with a call for submissions. They received quite a few stories from which to choose and went from there. They looked within the stories for an exchange, a description, an event that couldn’t be forgotten. They wanted all the short stories to add additional layers to the anthology. The fiction needed to feel new and fresh and engaging to be included in the book.


Segment 4:

Matt has worked with veterans groups as a Senior Writing Fellow, mostly to encourage them to get their experiences down on paper for cathartic purposes. The writing experience can create a new creative capacity in their lives. There is a military-civilian divide and Matt and Roy feel the most important thing they as vets can do within the community is to represent themselves and get their stories out there. The only way to really understand people’s personal stories is to keep talking, keep engaging, keep diving into the complexities of American History.


To listen to the complete interview:


Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3

Segment 4

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