Picks and Pans Review: The Last War

updated 06/29/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/29/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Ana Menéndez |

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A photographer who pings from one bloody conflict to another with her journalist husband, Brando, the heroine of this potent literary novel allows that they are "war junkies: Eros and Chaos, endlessly drawn to the ragged margins where other people hated and died." In 10 years of dodging bombs and documenting mass graves in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan and Kashmir, the two have learned to savor their perks and keep their distance from their subjects. "When you're an American abroad," explains "Flash," the narrator, "suffering is for the locals." An interlude in Istanbul while the charismatic Brando is in Iraq, however, gives Flash a new perspective on her marriage (he's a cheat) and on her life as a voyeur. Formerly married to a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, Menéndez offers a deft portrait of an estranged couple whose pain is veiled by the fog of war.

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