Book Review – Simon Petrie

The voice which Corbett has selected—first-person narration by Sylvie, who so frequently refers to ‘her’ lieutenant in the second person that the tale is in effect a paean to a deeply troubling, deeply-felt relationship—adds significantly to the narrative’s innate tension….The book’s depiction of occupation is deep and multifaceted: the fierce arguments between Port’s subjugated citizens over the options of resistance, submission, or collaboration … the senseless yet carefully-calibrated atrocities inflicted seemingly at random, … the ‘war banter’ between Maur and his fellow officers, full of opaque metaphors, occupational in-jokes, and shorthand references to past sorties; the day-to-day focus of those who can’t know, when they arise in the morning, if they will still be more-or-less safe that evening. There’s a strong sense of invasion as marketing, of harassment as advertising: Garrison’s boy soldiers humiliate, assault, kill those who cannot fight back, in part because they can, in part because it’s what’s expected of them. Anything less would indicate a failure, on their part, to meet military KPIs. This focus obviously makes for strange bedfellows with the book’s other primary concern of love and abandonment; and yet it’s this juxtaposition, more than anything else, which makes the story work.’

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