The trouble with writing the unvarnished truth in a memoir is that it requires you to be hard not only on others, but also on yourself. Matt Young’s inventive, unsparing, irreverent and consistently entertaining Eat the Apple is that, but it is also a useful corrective to the current idealization of the American soldier — or in this case a Marine … Young writes less about war here than about the culture of being a Marine, one of the few and the proud. His memoir — its title, Eat the Apple, refers to a vulgar Marine proverb — is in its own way a loving portrait, but it is also unsparing, ugly and outrageous … He has written a collection of arresting vignettes, roughly chronological, in a variety of forms.
Young is a frank, funny and mercilessly self-lacerating narrator. His writing is entertaining and experimental — two adjectives not often found together. To convey the chaos of his three deployments in Iraq, Young writes in choppy chapters filled with lists, letters, cartoons, plays and, yes, lots of stories … Eat the Apple is a brilliant and barbed memoir of the Iraq War. Unlike his ‘past-me’ self in that hotel room struggling to communicate with his family, Young has now found the language to convey the messy totality of his experiences. And that's just about all the redemption you'll find in Young's war story.
Matt Young’s Eat the Apple is an up-from-self-loathing memoir about his three deployments to Iraq between 2005 and 2009, which coincided with bumpy rites of passage in the desert … As coming of age starts to reside in Young’s mind, there is a parallel, platoon-wide upsurge in hesitant yet expressed intimacy that mutes the caustic corporals and supercilious sergeants, and domesticates the predictable loneliness and other atrocities yoked to war … Young’s saga is infused with trauma, toughing it out, and TLC. But, ironically, it is not a work that defines battle directly because Young never gets to kill. Apple is about the myriad psychological conflicts associated with concentrated exposure to combat.