The stories in John Warner's Tough
Day for the Army move from hilarious and biting to unsettling and
sad-sometimes within the span of a few pages. Mining the absurdities,
confusions, and hypocrisies of our contemporary times, these stories
raise questions such as: What would happen if Jesus Christ played minor
league hockey before he became the Son of God ("Second Careers")? What
would you do if a group of poets in search of inspiration appeared on
your farm ("Poet Farmers")?
Many of the stories upend expectations of the act of storytelling, as in "Corrections and Clarifications," written entirely in the form of newspaper corrections, or "Return-to-Sensibility Problems after Penetrating Captive Bolt Stunning of Cattle in Commercial Beef Slaughter Plant #5867: Confidential Report," which begins as a straightforward account of slaughterhouse operations but quickly devolves into something wholly surprising and different.
Warner's relentlessly inventive stories are reminiscent of the works of Donald Barthelme, George Saunders, and Amy Hempel. With comic and tender rambunctiousness, his satirical voice parries and thrusts its way through each narrative, combining a strong wit with a soft heart.