Comprising experimental poetry and prose, Friendly + Fire interrogates the male subjective experience of war and the gendered implications of camaraderie or “brotherhood” while aligning the seriousness of a war target with the frivolities of gossip: “MILITARY LINGO SUBLIMATES SMACK TALK FROM HERE ON IN.”
Friendly + Fire employs a character named H.S. (also to be read as “his”) as a filter for engaging with and through real-life stories of friendly fire. In the first section, the Tarnak Farm Incident (where four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were killed by American Air Force pilot Harry Schmidt) is used as source material, intersecting with questions about receiving a “pink slip” from one’s employer and the mental and physical conditions endured by fighter pilots (suppressed appetite, prescribed sedatives and amphetamines to regulate sleep, and stress tolerance). Reductionist language is used to describe friendship in the 21st century (forced affect in the workplace and Facebook friends).
Act I of LaFrance’s first book, Species Branding, ends with the line: “crippled on my last leg. where are our friends?” It is a question that has carried forward into Friendly + Fire, acting as the connective tissue between these two texts.