Anatomy of a Soldier

Anatomy of a Soldier, by Harry Parker

This one’s an oddity. A soldier serving in a hot, foreign country that is probably but by no means Afghanistan is wounded in an IED ambush that ultimately takes both his legs. The story – not just of the explosion, but before, during and after, both in his life and in the lives of some of the locals – is narrated by 45 inanimate objects linked with the event. Some of it is the specialist equipment he wears. Some of it is more obscure, like the bike ridden by one of the locals, or a carpet, or a letter from his girlfriend – even the microscopic fungal spore that is driven into his leg by the blast, thus requiring the second amputation, and the supersonic shockwave of the explosion itself. The author is indeed a British soldier who lost both legs etc. and I can imagine the writing was very therapeutic. It’s involving, detailed and – when an inanimate object is speaking – very poetic. Strangely, the biggest let-down is when a human starts flapping their mouth up and down because the dialogue is pure Janet and John.