Photo by Jay Halsey

Photo by Jay Halsey

forthcoming from Tarpaulin Sky in Fall 2018 *Pre-order available now

water & power, a novel that plunges into military culture and engages with perceptions of heroism and terrorism. In this shifting landscape, deployments are feared, absurd bureaucracy is normalized, and service members are consecrated. water & power is a collage of voices, documents, and critical explorations that disrupt the usual frequency channels of military narratives.


In Water & Power Steven Dunn’s remarkable talent for storytelling collapses the boundaries between poetry and prose, memoir and fiction. Dunn reveals, exacerbates, and speculates on the gargantuan mythology of a legendary branch of the American armed forces: The Navy. How is a superpower created and maintained? Who maintains it? What stories are told, buried or collected along the way — stories of survival, violence, duty and ethics? Among the interviews, photographs, and journal entries Dunn shows us an intimate portrait of power: like water, you are never quite sure who is claiming control beneath the surface.

— Nikki Wallschlaeger

Dunn unrelentingly captures the difficult, funny, abject, exhilarating, heartbreaking and maddening aspects of Navy life, both on and off duty. When people say thank you for your service, I wish they would say something else. Maybe they can quote a line fromwater & power. Maybe they can read the pages of names of Iraqis killed by our military. Maybe they can consider what that kind of service does to and asks from all of us without resorting to automatic pith — after all, “we act cliché in real life too” — and take action to prevent such carnage. Maybe they can question how bodies, alive and dead, are used and misused in the world and in war. Read this book and understand the veterans in your life better, understand the aggressive disconnection the armed forces demands, and retain a much clearer picture of the people who wear the uniform in America’s name — as who we are, complex and bold and conflicted and powerful and terrified and tough and human.

— Khadijah Queen