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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
War informs the 56 stories of Theodore Jerome Cohen's Flash Fiction Stories of the Warrior, ranging from flash fiction to long-form short stories, inviting readers to delve into the lives of the military personnel, family, lovers, including pets that they left behind and the ones that serve in the war. 'The Falls' is the first story of the anthology－a homage to Cohen’s childhood friends－about a man who lost his brothers in WWII. In 'Doll', a dejected young French girl accepts the fact that her father won’t return as he prepares to join his troop for the Second Battle of the Aisne. A soldier recounts his harrowing experience during the Mỹ Lai massacre in 'War'. It's a hard story to read, as I feel that the victims never got the justice they deserved.
The atrocities of war and human fallibility resonate strongly as the inspiration comes from historical events. However, there are lighter, sweet moments as well as paranormal elements. Set in the fictional town of Willoughby, inspired by one of the episodes in The Twilight Zone TV series, 'Waiting' is a melancholic story of a soldier’s undying love and loyalty to his lover, anticipating her arrival at the train station. Poignant and funny at the same time, 'Survivors' is another favorite of mine where two brothers are reminiscing about their antagonism when they were soldiers. 'Drummer Boy' is a solid nod to John Lincoln Clem, who served in the Union Army in the American Civil War, while 'A Last Goodbye' is an extraordinary tale of how mistaken identity leads to a strange turn of events.
The stories contain different levels of dramatic action; some are more subtle or quieter, focusing more on the characters’ self-perceptions and emotional states. The narrative and dialogue capture a myriad of characters’ feelings, and the endnotes are helpful to shed light on short pieces that may or may not be clear vignettes to some readers. Overall, this is a wonderful and reflective miscellany from Cohen; a commendable ninth entry of the Flash Fiction Anthologies.