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The most tragic and enduring legacy of the Iraq War may be the thousands of vets suffering traumatic brain injury (TBI). Metal Heads is a moving and deeply unsettling novel of a hospital full of such vets in California. The book’s narrator, Marine Lance Corporal Jeremy “Spoon” Witherspoon, is typical: he’s lost an eye and a hand and has a steel plate in his head. He’s dosed with an ever-changing cocktail of drugs and may or may not have a steady grasp of reality. He describes a hospital surrounded by razor wire, filled with video-surveillance cameras, and policed by private contractors. Few of the patients have any family, loved ones, or even visitors. Spoon hints that patients are being experimented on and believes they’ll soon be coming for him. At the same time, he fears the hospital will be closed for lack of funds, and he will be homeless. When he and fellow patients ask when they will be released, they are told, “Don’t even think about it,” which they translate into the word unthinkable, which, in turn, becomes their ironic mantra, the Catch-22 for a new generation of warriors. The heart of this dark, Kafkaesque tale lies in uncertainty. TBI, like war, wreaks havoc on the brain, and Maremaa’s characters may all be delusional. Or not. A powerful and heartbreaking novel. --*Starred Review* Booklist, Thomas Gaughan

"This is a heartbreaking, well-paced story of an injured Iraqi veteran and the terrors of war . . . Told in the vernacular of the narrator, complete with misspelling and lingo of street youth, the narrative tells the story of all those touched by the war . . . This moving, in your face work packs an emotional punch." —Publishers Weekly

Added by pamgrange on May 31, 2009