By Gregory Kirschling
Updated January 09, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

Anthony Swofford follows his hit ’03 Gulf War memoir Jarhead with a flimsy first novel, a mushy tough-guy story about a sensitive teen linebacker in love with the coach’s foxy daughter (”the image of a sexy beast”), on a military base near Tokyo, circa 1989. (In a cliché twofer, the hard-driving coach is also a boorish general.) The first part of Exit A finds the girl pulling off robberies for the Japanese criminal underworld, only one of many preposterous plot points. Swofford’s writing here is just not very good: A sushi chef prepares fish, ”his knife slicing through saba like a shooting star through a new-moon night.” That’s some knife.

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