By Troy Patterson
August 23, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Dear Mr. President

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The narrators in Hudson’s debut story collection are often unreliable. As is the author’s feel for figurative language. His metaphoric range includes the far-fetched (a dislocated jaw pops back into place ”with the sound of a camera shutter”) and the comically shopworn (”deep down she is an angel with a heart of pure gold”). The tales themselves — all related to the Persian Gulf War and its aftermath — are clammy with labored absurdity. In ”Cross-Dresser,” a downed Air Force captain escapes his Iraqi torturers with the help of a valiant camel and the ghost of his 13-year-old daughter, who apparently enters his body through the navel. In ”The Cure as I Found It,” a hallucinating vet watches sporting equipment turn into a tabby cat (”This was no basketball. It was Whiskers”). This is the kind of book in which a Hispanic GI named Jesus is, in fact, crucified.

Dear Mr. President

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