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Desert Mementos: Stories of Iraq and Nevada

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Desert Mementos is a collection of loosely connected short stories set during the early stages of the Iraq War (2004 and 2005). The stories rotate from battles with insurgents and the drudgery of the war machine in Iraq to Nevada, where characters are either preparing for war, escaping it during their leave, or returning home having seen what they’ve seen.   Cage captures Desert Mementos is a collection of loosely connected short stories set during the early stages of the Iraq War (2004 and 2005). The stories rotate from battles with insurgents and the drudgery of the war machine in Iraq to Nevada, where characters are either preparing for war, escaping it during their leave, or returning home having seen what they’ve seen.   Cage captures similarities in the respective desert landscapes of both Iraq and Nevada, but it is not just a study in contrasting landscapes. The inter-connected stories explore similarities and differences in human needs from the perspectives of vastly different cultures. Specifically, the stories deftly capture the overlap in the respective desert landscapes of each region, the contrasting cultures and worldviews, and the common need for hope. Taken together, the stories represent the arc of a year-long deployment by young soldiers. Cage’s stories are bound together by the soldier’s searing experiences in the desert, bookended by leaving and returning home to Nevada, which in many ways can be just as disorienting as patrolling the Iraq desert.


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Desert Mementos is a collection of loosely connected short stories set during the early stages of the Iraq War (2004 and 2005). The stories rotate from battles with insurgents and the drudgery of the war machine in Iraq to Nevada, where characters are either preparing for war, escaping it during their leave, or returning home having seen what they’ve seen.   Cage captures Desert Mementos is a collection of loosely connected short stories set during the early stages of the Iraq War (2004 and 2005). The stories rotate from battles with insurgents and the drudgery of the war machine in Iraq to Nevada, where characters are either preparing for war, escaping it during their leave, or returning home having seen what they’ve seen.   Cage captures similarities in the respective desert landscapes of both Iraq and Nevada, but it is not just a study in contrasting landscapes. The inter-connected stories explore similarities and differences in human needs from the perspectives of vastly different cultures. Specifically, the stories deftly capture the overlap in the respective desert landscapes of each region, the contrasting cultures and worldviews, and the common need for hope. Taken together, the stories represent the arc of a year-long deployment by young soldiers. Cage’s stories are bound together by the soldier’s searing experiences in the desert, bookended by leaving and returning home to Nevada, which in many ways can be just as disorienting as patrolling the Iraq desert.

47 review for Desert Mementos: Stories of Iraq and Nevada

  1. 4 out of 5

    Travis Bow

    A fantastic little book of stories. I particularly loved the unnerving psychological thriller Desert Island and the heart-wrenching Soldier's Cross. A great few nights of reading before bed (and having to force myself to stop and get to bed at a reasonable hour).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steven Hull

    The United States has been at war since 2001, nearly a generation. We have become used to it. We hide it, ignore it, fete it, borrow to fund it, praise the heroes and non-heroes, and remain ignorant of its impacts on those who fight it. Desert Mementoes is a collection of short stories about the Iraq War. These stories bridge the time and distance between that experience and life in the author’s own home, Reno and northern Nevada. Cage is qualified to write this account. A native Renoite, he g The United States has been at war since 2001, nearly a generation. We have become used to it. We hide it, ignore it, fete it, borrow to fund it, praise the heroes and non-heroes, and remain ignorant of its impacts on those who fight it. Desert Mementoes is a collection of short stories about the Iraq War. These stories bridge the time and distance between that experience and life in the author’s own home, Reno and northern Nevada. Cage is qualified to write this account. A native Renoite, he graduated from West Point in 2002 and subsequently spent two tours in Iraq. He experienced the war in the first person. He saw America’s struggle to accept the war. He lived the discontinuity between the absurdity of war and a twenty-four hour journey back to sanity in Nevada. Each story takes the reader into the minds of the young soldiers on the front lines. We can observe how war twists and ultimately ravages the sensibilities of young kids. We learn how the civilians and families back home become strangers to those they sent to war, and the struggles of the soldiers to reconnect with sanity. These stories are personal. They are vital because they are one of the few means available for an ignorant civilian population to connect with the violence and reality of the wars we have wrought.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Prahallad Badami

    The writing is not engaging, in most instances. There's life and anticipation when the author describes the battle scenes and a romantic pursuit, but the rest of the writing is dry, highly colloquial and just plain bland. The attempt to relate the existence in the two different deserts seems week and disappointing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kit

  5. 5 out of 5

    Holli Alvarado

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  7. 4 out of 5

    Casey

  8. 4 out of 5

    Johanna

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Goolsby

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Tomlin

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dave Swanson

  13. 5 out of 5

    James Brundage

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katey Schultz

  16. 4 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl Proc

  17. 4 out of 5

    David Eisler

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christina

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  20. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  21. 5 out of 5

    Prathama Mallya

  22. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stacia Chappell

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Taylor-Cruz

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ireon Williams

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pam Mooney

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  29. 5 out of 5

    Debee Sue

  30. 4 out of 5

    Charissa Rate

  31. 5 out of 5

    Wanda C

  32. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

  33. 5 out of 5

    Tonia

  34. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

  35. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Wise

  36. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  37. 5 out of 5

    Katharine Adams

  38. 5 out of 5

    C

  39. 4 out of 5

    Mary Nee

  40. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Baker

  41. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Heare Watts

  42. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Crane

  43. 4 out of 5

    J.

  44. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Boyd

  45. 5 out of 5

    Hayleigh

  46. 5 out of 5

    Melly Mel

  47. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Maddox

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