by Sukey HowardMarch 2007
Anthony Swofford wowed us with Jarhead, his brutally blunt, bittersweet, best-selling memoir about life as a Marine lance corporal during the first Gulf War, vivid with images of boys being pumped up to kill, sitting in the sand perfecting their profanity. Now, Swofford, who comes from a multigenerational military family and who spent four of his childhood years on a military base in Tokyo, has turned his hand to fiction and, not surprisingly, has marshaled his upfront and personal insights into Army brathood as background for his first novel. Exit A, read by John Slattery, starts when Severin Boxx and Virginia Sachiko Kindwall are 17 and living on a U.S. Air Force base in Tokyo. She's the drop-dead gorgeous daughter of the base general and he's the star of the football team her father coaches. He's nuts about her, but she's nuts about rebelling and calling her all-powerful father's bluff. Their less-than-five-minute romance ends in real disaster and when we meet them again, 15 years later, Severin has let himself slide into an unfulfilled life and a messy marriage in California. Virginia, cut off from her father for years, paid for her rebellion big time and now leads a marginal existence in Tokyo. Do they get back together can these these frayed, muddled lives be mended? Well, tune in, it's worth finding out.