Bryan, a 40-ish novelist who is probably tired of being identified as the late John O'Hara's stepson, relates the Mullens' evolution and torment in "Friendly Fire," which has just finished running piecemeal in The New Yorker. Never mind if you read it there: buy the book. The magazine treatment did not do it justice for two reasons. First of all, The New Yorker's hopelessly anemic typography distracts from the strength of the story, and, secondly, this is one tale that should not be chopped into pieces separated by week intervals.
The great war stories do not deal solely with the death of soldiers but with the death of idealism, and Bryan's handling of that theme is certainly the finest that has come...
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