2007 One Book, One Denver: Announced at the Rocky Mountain News, Denver Post, and 9 News. More commentary at the Rocky Mountain News. Video at CBS4 Denver. Interviews at the Denver Post, Colorado Public Radio, and the Rocky Mountain News (with an expanded version at New West). And a studio interview with Nick Arvin and five high school students on Colorado Public Radio's KCFR Presents.
Summit Daily News, Nov. 28, 2007:
The overall feel of this short novel is a brutal and uncompromising picture of a scared young man coming to terms with his self-perceived cowardice in an unfamiliar land amid a war nothing could have prepared him for. This is exactly why Articles of War is successful in the story it tells.
War, Literature, & the Arts, Vol. 18/1-2:
Nick Arvin's finely wrought debut novel has...earned a place for itself among the best literature offering insight into humankind's most calamitous behavior.
The Docket, December 2006:
While critics have compared the work to Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage, it seems to me that Arvin has written something more comparable to European writers like Knut Hamson or even Albert Camus.
Articles of War is a finalist for the 2006 Colorado Book Award. (Update: AoW wins. From the judges: "Don't be deceived by the title of Nick Arvin's Articles of War. Not a book about the military, this is a universal story that illuminates the inevitable battlefield that is the human experience. Told in tightly-crafted prose, Arvin does not waste a word. The reader is pulled into young Heck's story from the first paragraph as he struggles with what it means, not just to be a soldier, but a fallible human being.")
The American Library Association has selected Articles of War to receive the 2006 W. Y. Boyd Literary Award for "excellence in military fiction."
An interview with the author at BookThink, posted May 22, 2006.
Small Spiral Notebook, Spring 2006:
The big secret, of course, one nearly every soldier keeps to himself, is that fear on the battlefield is everywhere. It is good, it is right and it is something Heck realizes painfully, yet beautifully in Mr. Arvin's writing.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters has honored Articles of War and Nick Arvin with the annual Rosenthal Foundation Award for "considerable literary achievement."
New York Times Book Review, Paperback Row, March 19, 2006:
This compact, intense first novel, about a quiet young Iowan drafted during World War II and shipped to Normandy, evokes the nightmare into which soldiers are suddenly thrown.
The Plain Dealer, February 22, 2006:
Gripping... Heck fights in 1945, but Arvin makes it easy to think about his counterparts today.
Contra Costa Times Book Club selection, February, 2006. Also see the book club reaction and author interview.
Esquire, Books of the Year List, December, 2005:
Here are some of the ways in which Articles of War runs the risk of seeming hopelessly out-of-date: It is relentlessly literary. It is as prim about sex as is its young hero, Heck, so called because he obeys his parents and doesn't swear, even in Normandy and Belgium in some of the heaviest fighting of World War II. And its subject is the great lost subject of American fiction, manhood. Heck, you see, is not just an obedient son and a dutiful soldier; he's a coward. He fears his cowardice just as much as he fears war, and when his cowardice leads him not to the disgrace of desertion but to the death of his own soul, we know exactly what has been lost -- not just in the life of poor Heck, but also in the reach of our modern, and then postmodern, and then post-post-modern literature.
Other year-end lists featuring Articles of War: The Journal News, Detroit Free Press, Rocky Mountain News, and Geoff Dyer in The Independent (UK).
Salon, June 24, 2005:
It would be a good idea to read Articles of War, Nick Arvin's bleak and harrowing World War II novel, in one sitting. To do otherwise runs the risk of dampening its tremendous power. One might also wish to have a loved one nearby when one finishes it, if only to hold for a few moments.
Washington Post Editors' Pick, June 5, 2005.
Chicago Public Radio, Summer Book Bag, June 2, 2005.
AudioFile, review of the audio version of Articles of War, June/July, 2005:
J.D. Cullum narrates with a tone of spiritual withdrawal that seems exactly suited to the moral dilemmas faced by Heck. Both story and reading are compelling, their message challenging.
Columbus Dispatch, May 15, 2005:
The author excels not only at portraying the horrors of battle but also at illustrating the physical and emotional toll war has in its participants.
Chicago Tribune, May 1, 2005:
January Magazine, April, 2005:
Articles of War seems destined to become a classic.
Reviewed by Keith Taylor on Michigan Public Radio.
Blue Ridge Business Journal:
Articles of War just took an early lead in my personal poll for book of the year. It's that good, without question.
Washington Post, March 20, 2005:
A gem of a book... Beautifully written and timely.
Interview with Gary Deeb on WWKB, Buffalo, New York.
Interview on Colorado Public Radio.
The Bloomsbury Review, Mar/Apr, 2005:
Shatters the monolithic facade of war... Articles of War stands out as a surprising achievement for our times...and far transcends any boundaries of war literature.
The Oakland Press, March 13, 2005:
Quick, precise and often brilliantly spare... Doesn't give you a chance to recover and gain perspective before something else knocks you backward off your feet. This is Arvin's brilliance. Articles of War is relentless.
Bestseller in the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post.
Boulder Daily Camera, March 6, 2005:
Admirably puts story at the forefront, and doesn't seek to distract with overly florid prose. Like Hemingway, Arvin lets the story itself convey the message; there is no preaching here.
A Book Sense pick:
A staggering accomplishment, at once both beautiful and horrifying, ultimately deeply moving and unforgettable.
Pages Magazine, Mar/Apr, 2005:
What is normal behavior for a soldier in combat? In his vivid, disturbing first novel, Nick Arvin suggests why that question eludes quick, or even learned, answers... Arvin avoids generalizations. Heck's story is the compressed coming of age of a lone 18-year-old. Take it or leave it. You won't forget it.
Westword, March 3, 2005:
Such a sure, steady voice that it's hard to believe the author has never seen war.
Live from Prairie Lights on WSUI.
Interview on Channel 9, Colorado & Co.
Fort Myers News-Press, February 27, 2005:
Arvin's 178-page meditation is like a grenade, compact but explosive... The ending is a modest masterpiece.
KZYX radio, February 27, 2005:
Articles of War reads like a dream, a fevered dream... Nick Arvin brings war to life so effectively it's not possible to ignore the implications.
Hartford Courant, February 27, 2005:
Just when we think the ultimate novel about war has been written, a new book comes along and dictates another look.
The Flint Journal, February 27, 2005:
Arvin's artistry is showing us how Heck experiences these horrors so that we see them through his eyes and feel their effect on his psyche. Flint Journal feature.
USA Today, February 24, 2005:
A textbook example of how clear and precise writing can carry a narrative... Arvin paints a vivid portrait of the fog of war. He captures the chaos and confusion of combat that's often left out of the accounts, whether fact or fiction, written after the fog has lifted. USA Today Q&A.
The Denver Post, February 20, 2005:
Articles of War is a slim volume that is hard to forget... The resulting novel plays out in lyrically sparse language, a story that is bleak but very affecting. Arvin leaves the key judgments in the hands of his readers, and he does it in a way that ends up feeling very personal.
identitytheory.com, February 20, 2005:
I agree with Spragg: "Arvin has accomplished what only a handful of writers have managed -- he has crafted a spare and perfect masterwork."
The Arizona Republic, February 20, 2005:
We meet Heck as he waits, endlessly, to be sent to the front, like a foreigner who has been dropped off in a place so alien that it might as well be another planet. It's a place of passage, a time suspended between his former life and the new one he will have after he has witnessed war. Arvin describes what happens to the earnest Heck in firm, unemotional prose that gathers steam as the story progresses. There is a twist at the end, a bit of melodrama that is surprising and disconcerting, but the book would have succeeded without it because Arvin has made us feel Heck's desperate fear.
Colorado Springs Independent, February 17, 2005:
With Articles of War, Nick Arvin has produced an American classic, a war tale to place on the shelf next to Hemingway, a tale of humanity under fire.
An interview with Bob Edwards aired on XM Public Radio February 17, 2005.
The New York Times, February 17, 2005:
Effectively summons the nightmare into which soldiers are suddenly thrown... Articles of War presents a tough and visceral vision of war as "a universe unto itself" and a moral crucible.
The Detroit Free Press, February 13, 2005:
Hyper-realism is the category that Articles of War, a slim debut novel by Nick Arvin, falls into. Indeed, it redefines the type, so perfect is its sense of what a single soldier might feel as the shells come whizzing in... A necessary addition to war literature and a book I won't soon forget.
The Rocky Mountain News, February 11, 2005:
Arvin's ability to capture the grim and fragmented atmosphere of war-demolished France parallels his deft hand in exploring the inner reverberations of Heck, full of unmatched hope and monumental insecurities. Such descriptions quake with enormity, and Arvin's handle on the psychological gravity is both immense and extraordinary.
O, The Oprah Magazine, February, 2005:
At one point early in 18-year-old George Tilson's romantic and harrowing experience of World War II in France shortly after D-Day, he finds himself longing for the Iowa farm country that the army has plucked him from. Tilson is the hero of Nick Arvin's first novel, Articles of War (Doubleday). In this delicate and lovely scene, he is with a beautiful French girl, Claire, who charmingly calls him Iowa -- everyone else calls him Heck because he does not cuss. He thinks "of the wide fields he had worked and in their absence seemed to know them with an intimacy he had never felt before." This is exactly how longing and loss affect our memories, and this scene is typical of the book: precision and sweeping imaginative intelligence that reminds one intensely of Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage. Heck is a character, like Crane's Henry Fleming, who responds to war with paralyzing fear... The battle scenes here, along with the one extended love scene, are described in such extraordinary detail that the effect is almost hyperrealistic, saturated with color, emotion, and physical sensations. Heck moves through changing landscapes and interacts with a rapidly shifting cast of characters, not one of whom Arvin neglects to make as three dimensional as someone you might meet and get to know on a long trip. The force that gives Articles of War its true power is not just the economically gorgeous writing, however; it is an artistic courage analogous to the one required of these young men at war: to render love, pain, death, and heartbreak, to live inside these human dramas, know them, and deliver them on the page, never for a moment with sentimentality or without respect.
The Christian Science Monitor, February 1, 2005:
One eerily striking scene follows another... A haunting, unsettling examination of fear in the face of destruction that would terrify any sane person.
Feature in Interview magazine, February, 2005.
The Journal News, January 27, 2005:
Not typical first novel material: a deeply affecting story of a young Midwestern soldier's struggle between courage and cowardice during the last year of World War II, written with such emotional acuity and elegant minimalism that comparisons to Crane, Mailer and Hemingway seem inevitable.
Articles of War received advance notice in a year-end column by William Safire.
This fierce, compact tale of one grunt's war takes readers to the same time and place - the woods of northern France in 1944 - where Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim was captured by the Germans. George Tilson, aka Heck, is another awkward, uncertain American 18-year-old mobilized from America's heartland to the European theater. Disembarked in Normandy, he meets a struggling French family: a one-armed painter; his daughter, Claire; and son, Ives. Claire nearly takes Heck's virginity, but he fumbles her seduction in a fit of fear. He's then trucked off to battle, where he experiences real panic under bombardment: "The noise was like nothing he had ever experienced before, a noise such as might be used to herald the beginning of a terrible new world." Heck is halfway through his nightmarish advance through a forest peppered with German snipers and booby traps before he fires his gun in anger, and that's only to kill the company dog. His second shot comes when his company sergeant, Conlee, an ex-foxhole mate and one of many to mark Heck as a coward, enlists him in an unexplained but horrifying mission. Arvin's first novel is an elegant, understated testament to the stoicism, accidental cowardice and occasional heroics of men under fire.
A vividly told first novel... A worthy and felt addition to retrospective WWII fiction.
In this story of an 18-year-old sent to Omaha Beach in August 1944, first-novelist Arvin captures the horror, chaos, and waste of war and the fear of those who fight... [An] accomplished and timely literary debut.