“They call us fags because they think they are so radically different from us. They don’t think about the men sitting next to them,” Lemer writes. “They assume everyone wearing the army green is just like them.”

“The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq,” by Bronson Lemer, University of Wisconsin Press, July 2011, Paperback, 978-0-299-28214-1, $24.95, 236 p.“The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq,” by Bronson Lemer, University of Wisconsin Press, July 2011, Paperback, 978-0-299-28214-1, $24.95, 236 p.“The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq,” by Bronson Lemer, University of Wisconsin Press, July 2011, Paperback, 978-0-299-28214-1, $24.95, 236 p.“The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq,” by Bronson Lemer, University of Wisconsin Press, July 2011, Paperback, 978-0-299-28214-1, $24.95, 236 p.And then he’s deployed to Iraq.

“The Last Deployment” is Lemer’s first-person remembrance of what it was like to be an American soldier in the desert. His memoir is rife with descriptions of sand dunes, airport terminals, boots kicking clouds of sand into the air, tanks, women in black abayas in the heat, the watchful eyes of Kuwaiti and Iraqi men and children, and The Golden Shower, “an actual shower head with a valve instead of a water bottle.”

What Lemer adds to the collection of American war writings is a timely, if somewhat overanalyzed, reflection on his experience as a gay serviceman before the recent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Lemer can form close relationships with the men he lives, works, and plays with, but he can never trust them enough to tell them who he really is.

His narrative follows the same model—readers are given a barrage of information about modern army life, but little about the loves and losses of Lemer himself. The details Lemer discloses are closely scrutinized for larger meaning: What does it mean to be a soldier in this complicated war? What is the nature of friendship? How do we memorialize our comrades?

While the old writer’s adage of “Show, Don’t Tell” could have benefitted this text, as a personal story of one young man trying to make sense of his sexual and military identity, “The Last Deployment” is an interesting read.

DETAILS: “The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq,” by Bronson Lemer, University of Wisconsin Press, July 2011, Paperback, 978-0-299-28214-1, $24.95, 236 p.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here