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The disordering

Thomas F Coakley, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In the mountainous province of an unnamed Muslim nation, Captain Michael Klobb follows the trail of unknown aggressors who are destroying entire villages, leaving no survivors but the dogs who dine gleefully at the bloodied corpses of their masters. Klobb, exhausted by violence and dreaming of his wife and child, is determined to pay respects for these anonymous dead, and so embarks on a ritualized mourning process in which he imagines the faces of his most beloved family members on the bodies of the dead. Meanwhile, Brian Kraft, Klobb's very best lieutenant, is refusing to communicate with his CO, and soon Klobb encounters the spent shells of his own army's weapons among the ruins of a destroyed village. On the home front, Melinda, Klobb's wife, is informed that her husband has been killed in action. Caught between hope that the army has made a bureaucratic error and her own abortive attempts at mourning, Melinda looks to Klobb's recently returned-home lieutenant for answers and physical comfort. Where does the war front end and the home front begin? Who are our friends and who are our enemies? How do we mourn for the loss of the people we love most? These questions of war and family are explored narratively by a third-generation American military officer in The Disordering, a novel which seeks to capture some aspects of the contemporary, and seemingly interminable wars being fought in the Middle East, South Asia, and elsewhere. Following in the example of post-postmodern innovators such as Jennifer Egan and Brian Evenson, The Disordering does not attempt to demonstrate the ways in which our lives are postmodern by embracing an experimental aesthetic or employing an overtly fragmented narrative. Rather, this creative dissertation begins with the presumption that reality is a radically subjective fact, that every point of view and every perception is already uniquely experimental. The story moves briskly along a conventional narrative arc, making detours that are sometimes subtle, sometimes very jarring, but always unnervingly real.

Subject Area

American literature|Military studies

Recommended Citation

Coakley, Thomas F, "The disordering" (2011). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3466559.