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Eleven Days [Kindle Edition]

Lea Carpenter
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Toni Morrison is a fan of this novel by one of the original editors of Francis Ford Coppola's lit mag Zoetrope. The story of a boy who applies to naval academy after 9/11 and then goes missing the same night of the Bin Laden raid. Think Homeland in fiction form and you get some idea of the twists and turns of this novel about the military and the nature of sacrifice and love. (Viv Groskop, Red Magazine)

[An] earnest first novel ... Carpenter provides a convincing portrait of an exclusive and exclusively male military subculture, and of the men formed and deformed by it. (New York Times)

What Denis Johnson did for the Vietnam War in Tree of Smoke, Lea Carpenter does for Iraq and Afghanistan in her superb Eleven Days. At the core of this extraordinary novel is the love of a mother for her child. That's the story of us all, and that's the story that may well break your heart. (Ben Fountain, author of BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK)

Lea Carpenter's Eleven Days is an extraordinary accomplishment. Written with an elegant precision, this book is at its core a story about love: between a mother and a son, a son and a father, and a special group of men for each other and the imperfect country they choose to serve. I highly recommend it. (Kevin Powers, bestselling author of THE YELLOW BIRDS)

A compelling story made memorable by the strength of its elegant prose. (Toni Morrison)

A superb novel of war, love and US special forces. (Simon Sebag Montefiore, London Evening Standard (Books of the Year 2013))

A deeply affecting story about a mother and a son that attests to the debut of an extraordinarily gifted writer... Ms. Carpenter makes palpable the immensely complicated emotional arithmetic that binds this mother and son - Sara's cherishing of her only son and her knowledge that she needs to let him find his own way in life; Jason's worries about his mother's worries, clashing up against his passionate embrace of a dangerous profession. In doing so Ms. Carpenter has written a novel that maps - much the way that Jayne Anne Phillips's classic Machine Dreams and Bobbie Ann Mason's In Country did - the fallout that war has not just on soldiers, who put their lives on the line, but also on their families, who wait anxiously back home. (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)

Every soldier was, once, someone's child. With this ineluctable truth at her story's core, Lea Carpenter has crafted a beautiful, and original, work of art. Eleven Days manages to be both a meditation on courage and a gripping read. Scholarly and stylish, displaying a capacious mind and even greater heart. A magnificent debut. (Alexandra Styron, author of READING MY FATHER)

An exceptional debut. (Bookbag)

The most remarkable aspect of Eleven Days is the fact that Carpenter depicts the civil-military divide without a hint of irony, instead choosing to tell her story with deep heart and conviction, not unlike the sense of duty that Jason exhibits throughout the book. (World Policy Journal blog)

A stark debut... Written in simple but stirring prose, it's an elegant meditation on the love between a mother and son. (Entertainment Weekly)

With poignant prose and an impeccably structured narrative, Carpenter's novel is the sweet pitch before the violin screeches; the concluding state of reverence for a world we can't control and a song for the war in Afghanistan that provides comfort without reason. (Publishers Weekly)

Stripped of either satire or extreme violence, [Eleven Days] lingers on the cold inevitabilities of conflict, which makes it a highly moral anti-war novel without noisily announcing itself as such... This well-turned story packs plenty of emotion. Among the smartest of the batch of recent American war novels. (Kirkus reviews)

...a beautifully written debut. (Herald Sun Melbourne)

...good writing and a great story. (Weekend Australian)

...full of insight and grace. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Carpenter raises searching questions about what the US has embarked on and notions of honour and courage... poised and gently melancholic... ultimately, this is a tale of a mother and son's unbreakable bond. (Metro)

Riveting and deeply moving - every mother should read this. (Frances Osborne, author of PARK LANE & THE BOLTER)

Eagerly awaited (Guardian)

somber yet moving... an ode to manhood, to motherhood, to the modern warrior and perhaps most compelling an ode to heroics. (Huffington Post)

Carpenter's intelligence and sincerity find powerful expression in the novel's sophisticated structure... This story reminds us that each of these warriors, no matter how brave and tough and deadly, is still some woman's beloved son. (Washington Post)

[An] incisive, graceful novel which is certain to vault to the top of any list of high quality literature about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan... Good fiction like this bears emotional authority that transcends the question of whether something "could" occur... Carpenter's writing is resonant in a way that doesn't call attention to itself, but builds upon itself, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter, to serve the whole of the book... Perhaps one of the most impressive-and unconventional-qualities of Eleven Days is the lack of a traditional antagonist. That's assuredly intentional. This isn't an "us" versus "them" narrative. It's about the nature of mythology, how it's shaped, why it's crafted, and what it does to us as a culture and society... With searing, sometimes uncomfortable truths like that found throughout Eleven Days, Lea Carpenter has written a novel that matters. (Daily Beast)

Exhaustively researched and skilfully written...Carpenter tells an important story - Eleven Days has all the precision and artistry of the Navy SEALs she depicts... precise, considered prose... the novel pays a necessary tribute to those who risk the ultimate sacrifice and the loved ones left to come to terms with that loss... a gut-wrenching tale of grief. (Stylist)

An assured debut novel... [An] affecting portrayal of maternal love at a time of war. (Vogue)

The nature of courage, sacrifice, love and heroism are all considered in this powerful ... debut. For all its Hollywood sheen, it is as determined to educate as it is to entertain. It's a mission that Lea Carpenter executes coolly in precise and elegant prose. (Daily Mail)

Book Description

A stunning debut novel-unexpected, tautly written, suspenseful-that touches on some of the most profound questions we have about war as it tells us a haunting story of a single mother, and her son, a member of the US Special Operations Forces.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 725 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307951030
  • Publisher: Two Roads (20 Jun. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BFSM982
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #158,967 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong, balanced modern military narrative... 24 July 2013
By North American Technology Consumer TOP 1000 REVIEWER
In "Eleven Days", Lea Carpenter does an excellent job of addressing the individual and organizational culture of US Navy SEALs. She does this without glamor or stars in her eyes. It is a fair and intimate portrait of the transition that takes somebody from trainee to "operator". This thread of the book is solid five-star fiction.

This book addresses the connection between Sara --single mother widowed at a young age-- and her son (Jason), a junior SEAL officer at a crossroads in his professional career, weighing options inside and outside of the military, all while proceeding with the dangerous business of his operational commitments. The military narrative is solid and credible. Less credible is the civilian and pseudo-governmental back story involving the political connections of Jason's godfather and the true circumstances of his father's death.

If you are interested in a highly personalized depiction of the how modern special warfare leaders are shaped, this is well worth reading.

Why four stars instead of five?
Early in my military service, I heard urban legends of service members (officers and enlisted alike) whose service records were emblazoned with "PI" stamps, notifying the world of political influence wielded by their families. I never knew if this myth was true or not, and have always wondered how the children of Biden and Palin (and other politicians who love to wear the service of their children on their sleeves) were treated by both commanders and peers as a result of their parents' visibility. The subplot of political influence runs far too strongly through this novel, and detracted from the otherwise strong personal narrative.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Call to Conflict 3 Dec. 2014
By Sofia
Having read a lot of the recent crop of novels from North Africa and the Middle East fictionalising the myriad reasons why young men can be radicalised and driven to commit violence, Carpenter's "Eleven Days" makes for a good companion piece from the other side of the experience.

The book opens with Sara, a single mother, awaiting news of her only son, who has been missing on a military operation for nine days. Sara's waiting game leaves the field open to explore memories of her son Jason's own motivations for signing up and his journey from high school to military manhood. This is a book of ideas with much philosophising about warfare, sacrifice and what ideas or loyalties are worth risking one's life for. The ambiguities of the changing face of modern conflict are much ruminated over, alongside the way in which distant conflict, with no immediate threat to friends or family, is sustained by military folklore and mythologies.

This is also though a very American novel, for Jason is no ordinary son, rather the child of parents with CIA links and friends in the Pentagon. This opens the way for more discussion about the politics behind deployment and a more detailed history of America's development of its Special Forces. Although this adds a broader context to Jason's story, just occasionally it does strain the element of disbelief further than I would like - you are left in no doubt that Sara's experience is not representative of that of other servicemen's mothers. The novel is also very America-centric in the way in which it delves into military detail, peppering the prose with a hefty share of acronyms, not all of which are explained at the end.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulitzer. NBA. 11/10. Amazed. 17 Jun. 2013
When Sara is an intern at Langley, she meets David, who is something of a buffoon and 30 years her senior. He's a very charming buffoon, who seduces her, impregnates her with Jason, shacks up with her, leaves her, then dies. Twenty of so years later, Jason is hardcore military (special forces) and missing in action in some central Asian dustbowl; Afghanistan as it will transpire. At the start of the novel, he has been missing for nine days.

Essentially, the plot of the rest of the work is `small'. The novel occupies the next two days in the lives of Sara, and I suppose Jason, with huge yawning flashbacks to the life of Jason as a `good soldier', intense interchanges between the (pacifist) mother and her son and history of Sara and David - much of which is encapsulated in conversations between Sara and `the Godfather' who rescues her from her under-siege-by-the-press home.

The Godfather treats Sara to a dose of inverse secondary rendition as she is transported to Afghanistan...

This is the best novel about war written by a woman, ever.

I can't find any fault with it, anywhere. I'm something of a sucker for the sentimental of course, so long as the dose is very slight. Almost all of the work is present tense, which works on the few occasions when it works, and this is one of them. Carpenter's knowledge of military matters is astounding. Her understanding of single mothers and only children is astounding. Her lyrical power is astounding. This is what Tolstoy would have written if he worked for HBO (and was a woman). My goodness how the tension builds, about ten different varieties of tension! I've read this book in two hours and Sara, Jason and David are some of the most real characters I ever came across.
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