September 2014 Indie Next List
“An unforgettable tale of war, Fives and Twenty-Fives tells the story of a Marine Corps engineering platoon assigned to the dangerous and unending task of repairing road damage caused by improvised explosives on Iraqi highways. The unit travels with a bomb disposal team because secondary explosives are nearly always found at every scene. Told through the flashbacks of Marines struggling to find their place back in the States, the incidents coalesce in a devastating story of heroism, sacrifice, and vulnerability. The author served as a captain in the Marines, and his story is both textured and emotionally searing.”
— Mark LaFramboise, Politics & Prose Books and Coffee Shop, Washington, DC
It's the rule always watch your fives and twenty-fives. When a convoy halts to investigate a possible roadside bomb, stay in the vehicle and scan five meters in every direction. A bomb inside five meters cuts through the armor, killing everyone in the truck. Once clear, get out and sweep twenty-five meters. A bomb inside twenty-five meters kills the dismounted scouts investigating the road ahead.
Fives and twenty-fives mark the measure of a marine's life in the road repair platoon. Dispatched to fill potholes on the highways of Iraq, the platoon works to assure safe passage for citizens and military personnel. Their mission lacks the glory of the infantry, but in a war where "every" pothole contains a hidden bomb, road repair brings its own danger.
Lieutenant Donavan leads the platoon, painfully aware of his shortcomings and isolated by his rank. Doc Pleasant, the medic, joined for opportunity, but finds his pride undone as he watches friends die. And there's Kateb, known to the Americans as Dodge, an Iraqi interpreter whose love of American culture from hip-hop to the dog-eared copy of "Huck Finn "he carries is matched only by his disdain for what Americans are doing to his country.
Returning home, they exchange one set of decisions and repercussions for another, struggling to find a place in a world that no longer knows them. A debut both transcendent and rooted in the flesh, "Fives and Twenty-Fives" is a deeply necessary novel.
About the Author
Michael Pitre is a graduate of LSU, where, as a double major in history and creative writing, he studied with Andrei Codrescu and Mark Jude Poirier. He joined the US Marines in 2002, deploying twice to Iraq and attaining the rank of Captain before leaving the service in 2010 to get his MBA at Loyola. He lives in New Orleans. "Fives and Twenty-Fives" is his first novel.
“One of the great novels of war, the kind of book that comes along only once or twice each generation. It pulls off that rare literary feat of being at once expansive and personal; real and brutal and funny and wise. Michael Pitre is not just the real deal; he’s a literary force in the making.” —Joseph Boyden, author of Three Day Road
“An authentic and evocative novel about the many battlefields that soldiers face, Fives and Twenty-Fives represents an important new voice in the literature on war.” —Dominic Tierney, author of How We Fight