rogue rhetoric

random musings by michael d. durkota

Category: .: Veterans

Flash Reviews Volume VI: Veterans’ Month

Veterans deserve more than a day. This month is dedicated to Veteran Authors. Buy their books! Post reviews! Support veterans!

Rajani Chronicles I: Stone Soldiers, Brian S. Converse

“The day was gray as the rain fell softly in downtown Detroit. It was a spring rain, meant to wash away the snow, blackened from passing cars, which still clogged the gutters and sidewalks; yet it only succeeded in giving the day a feeling a melancholy for all those who bore witness to the tragic scene laid out before them.”

To be fair, I typically cringe at descriptions of weather in the opening line, but I enjoyed the way the scene was set in the second line and the way it gradually transitioned me into some ominous present action. I enjoy a good tragedy. I also like the word “melancholy.”

 

Secrets Revealed, Willis Bullard

“My last official act while still in the military was working under assumed identity trying to retrieve information from a usually friendly country on a group of terrorists that were planning to conduct an attack against a significant embassy in Germany. I was working with the State Department in conjunction with agents from the CIA conducting an investigation on possible espionage activity within the embassy.”

This sounds like the plot for the next season of Homeland, so it scares me just a little that this is non-fiction. Non-fiction as in, this shit is real. I love the last line of the prologue, “Buckle up… this gets bumpy.”

 

The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

This is one of my all-time favorite opening lines. Salinger was drafted into the Army, landed on Utah Beach, and participated in the Battle of the Bulge. Oh, and he met Hemingway while he was over there. Hemingway said he had “a helluva talent.” I tend to agree.

 

Flash Reviews Volume V: Veterans’ Month

Veterans deserve more than a day. They also deserve more than one sentence.  This month is dedicated to Veteran Authors. Buy their books! Post reviews! Support veterans!

 

Bishop’s War (Bishop Series Book 1), Rafael Hines

“Hours before the deadly desert sun rose above the low hills in the east, Clayton Unser walked over to one of the Valdez prison guard to ask a few questions. The moon had been full, bright enough to cast shadows, and the guard wore NVG’s (Night Vision Goggles), but Clayton made sure the man heard him coming. No reason to startle anyone in the dark when they’re holding an AR-15 assault rifle and wearing a .45 Colt Commander in a hip-holster. Clayton raised his hands palms up as a sign of reassurance, not surrender, and to make it an easy reach for the 9mm Glock 17 in his shoulder rig in case things got dicey.”

I immediately sense that Clayton is a bad-ass. If I ever need a bodyguard, I will look for someone exactly like Clayton. I may even pay him more if he will let me call him Clayton. Clayton has some skills that you can’t learn in books. Clayton is cool. Clayton is also someone I don’t ever want to anger.

 

The Vampire of Rome, Lincoln Farish

“Waking up on the scratchy, bare concrete floor of an underground cell beneath the Vatican in a puddle of my own saliva wasn’t the worst thing that had happened to me that day. Father Guillermo was the nicest torturer one could ever imagine.”

What could possibly be worse than waking up in a cell? In the Vatican? In a puddle of spit? Oh… torture. Got it. This is book four of the Inquisitor Series. If you haven’t already met Brother Sebastian, you need to fix that. Check out my full review of Book One.

 

The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

“First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. They were not love letters, but Lieutenant Cross was hoping, so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of his rucksack.”

I couldn’t resist including the quintessential veteran story here. I expect that most people have read it, at least the first chapter. If you have not read it, or if you have only read the first chapter, then you should probably fix that too.

 

Veterans Deserve a Whole Month

My 3rd annual Veterans’ charity promotion begins November 1. As in the past, 100% of all book proceeds will be donated to organizations that support veterans and their families. This year I have chosen to divide the proceeds between the following organizations:

Throughout the month, I will be posting Flash Reviews of books written by fellow veterans. Please support these and other veteran authors out there!

The Two Great American Writers Who Met at War

Literary legends Ernest Hemingway and J.D. Salinger met more than once in the middle of World War II.

Source: The Two Great American Writers Who Met at War | Flashback | OZY

Book Review: Spoils by Brian Van Reet

Spoils tells the story of Cassandra, a US soldier assigned as a gunner in Iraq. I was hooked from the opening line: “She is the most dangerous thing around.” Author Brian Van Reet tells Cassandra’s story through multiple perspectives that become gradually, and tragically intertwined. The details of war are vivid and brutal, though measured; Van Reet avoids falling into sheer melodrama, but doesn’t shy away from graphic realities. This is a psychological take on war, the action resides more in the minds of the characters than on the battlefield. The narrative is unconventional, mixing first and third person perspectives; it feels like a recorded testimony at times: part apology, part confession. Van Reet does a superb job of pulling these dissimilar threads together to create a balanced story. This was great read with many memorable lines and images; I certainly appreciated when Cassandra compared the interior of a Humvee to an unsound submarine.

Driven by unique characters and layered with irony, Spoils is a complex and philosophical treatise on war.

Great Event to Support Veterans

I was honored to participate in a public reading yesterday with Ryne Tobar, a fellow veteran and an excellent writer. The event was held at Norwin Public Library and was organized by Ashley Kunsa and Brad Coffield of VetsWrite; the festivities included refreshments and a Q&A with the audience.  We had a great turnout and participation. I signed a few books at the end and raised almost $100 for Operation Homefront!

Here’s a shot of me trying not to let the nerves show:

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Here’s the Q&A with Ryne:

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Here’s the team celebrating the success (Ryne, me, Ashley, and Brad):

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And here’s me getting ready to sign some books and raise some money for Operation Homefront:

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Veterans Day, a public reading, and some random musings

First. The Veterans Day charity pledge will continue until November 19. This year all proceeds will benefit Operation Homefront; they provide short-term and critical assistance, long-term stability, and recurring support programs to military families. Seriously a great organization. Please support them by grabbing a copy of Once in a Blue Year on Amazon.com.durkota-vets

Second. I am honored to participate in a public reading celebrating Veterans Day. The event is hosted by Ashley Kunsa of VetsWrite and is taking place at the Norwin Public Library on Saturday, November 12. I will be joined by fellow writer and veteran Ryne Tobar. If you are in the greater Pittsburgh area, please stop in. There will be a Q&A, refreshments, and I will be signing copies of Once in a Blue Year with all proceeds of course supporting Operation Homefront.

Third. Some random musings from this week:

  • I started reading the second book in Erica Crockett’s Blood Zodiac series. It is haunting and beautiful. She is a gifted writer. I highly recommend that you check out her first book, Chemicals. After that, you should get started with book one of the Blood Zodiac, The Ram.
  • I discovered that a random tweet of mine from last year was referenced in an article by The International Business Times. I was venting about the Oxford word of year being an emoji.
  • I am glad I stayed up to watch the last couple games of the World Series, but I think it will take me few days to catch up on all the lost sleep. I really didn’t care who won in the end, I just love the excitement of post-season baseball.

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