"A Brief Encounter with the Enemy"
by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
Originally published in the January 16, 2012 issue of The New Yorker

As you can see from my complete lack of posts and commentary, I’ve still been under the work bus. I’ll get caught up eventually — I promise!

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By |2016-07-11T17:37:09-04:00January 18th, 2012|Categories: New Yorker Fiction, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh|Tags: |3 Comments


  1. jerry January 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Really enjoyed his story, “Paranoia” last year in TNY and though I don’t think this story is quite as good, still very effective. Look forward to reading more of his work.

  2. Aaron January 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    It’s funny; I applauded “Paranoia” for leaving so much open, and yet here with “A Brief Encounter” I was hoping for the author to take a little more of a stand on the absurdity of war. Not that this is bad, by any means, but I think that the aimless tone the prose takes on account of the narrator weakens the overall story ever so slightly, and leaves me wondering about a few of the embellishments, like e-girlfriend Becky, or the nature of the war itself. (The lack of redeployment is odd, especially if so many American troops are dying on the front lines.)

    Still, I like the overall thoughts about the “right” reasons for joining a war, the vague concept of “enemy,” and the way in which the two flashbacks work hand-in-hand with Luke’s decision to finally shoot and then to just as abruptly backpedal on his action due to the shame of it. More thoughts here: http://bit.ly/zuUfz7

  3. Ken January 25, 2012 at 4:44 am

    I liked that the tone fit the ideas-bland, pointless, affectless. The use of slightly fantastic elements made this more universal and yet still clearly dealing with modern America’s blunders in the Middle East. War as sad-sack surrealism and emptiness within a modern empty America of office work and consumption. The military is simply a mirror of the same pointlessness at home and yet it also exists as a justification and locus of pride which can make the whole nation feel o.k. Sad, true. I liked it.

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