Burning Boy—1916

A Story

by Mary Swan
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You've packed a whole world of being into such a short piece of prose, Mary. You've given my idea of "wounded soldier" an inside life. It's hard-nosed and beautiful.

Your story is almost 6,000 words, but it feels like barely 2,000. Every sentence, every phrase, every word works toward something, toward moving the story and toward revealing more, and at the end of it you say more about humanity—and give more of it to your characters, but especially Robbie—than most writers do in a whole book, or five.

I love that the story is so much in his head. So fitting for a wounded soldier biding time in a hospital, with seemingly little choice but to allow most experiences there to wash over or past him, to allow things to be done to him, in body and also to a large extent in mind. I thought this was terrific. Bravo.