“America’s Asian wars have already inspired fine novels, and this debut effort is an intense, compelling addition. Hefti was an explosive ordnance disposal technician deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq twice, and his depiction of life and death in the misbegotten Iraq invasion stay with readers for a long time.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Finally! A war novel that’s less interested in bullets and bombs than it is the complicated inner lives of soldiers…[A] brilliantly-observed and exquisitely-paced debut novel…In the new parade of fiction coming out of our 21st-century wars, Matthew Hefti’s A Hard and Heavy Thing leads from the front.” —David Abrams, author of The New York Times notable book Fobbit
“A Hard and Heavy Thing is terrific. It is intellectually engaging in a way that almost no other war story can claim, save perhaps Phil Klay’s Redeployment. The tension builds, and as the story goes on, the story-beneath-the-story asserts itself–not unlike with David Foster Wallace’s footnotes–in longer and more muscular asides.” —Adrian Bonenberger, author of Afghan Post and contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Publisher’s Weekly.
“A timeless American story…[that] rings with an honesty that is earnest and smart and sad. This novel is so true to itself it hurts.” —Brian Castner, author of The Long Walk
“Hefti writes with an urgency that demands attention and ultimately breaks the heart.” —Elliot Ackerman, author of Green on Blue
Contemplating suicide after eight years at war, Levi sits down to write a note to his best friend Nick, explaining why he’s lost all hope. After a childhood of blood pacts, punk shows, and competing infatuations with the wounded and troubled Eris, both went off to war in a fit of youth and misdirected patriotism. But now Levi returns from Iraq both disgraced and lauded. A Silver Star for gallantry cannot alleviate the guilt he carries after his platoon’s deadliest mission. Levi may have saved Nick in Ad Dujayl, but when Levi returns home and implodes, Nick must play the savior, urging Levi to write. Levi begins typing as a way of bidding farewell, but what remains when he is done is not a suicide note; it’s a love song. One bold narrative spanning two wars across three continents, it’s a novel that challenges our ideas about sacrifice and courage. It’s a novel in which the beginning is the story’s end, the end is the real beginning of Levi’s life, and the future is as mutable as rewrites.