Reviews—necessary but scary. I’m reminded of the analogy told by a fellow writer who compared the process to dropping one’s pants in public and then listening politely and silently as the bystanders offer comments.
Eighteen months ago, the first reviews of my soon to be released novel, A Wretched Man, a novel of Paul the apostle, were published based upon advance reader copies . They were favorable, and I was relieved, flattered, and more than a little surprised. A writer may hope, but self doubt is omnipresent.
I am now in the same posture with the release, in serial fashion, of my short stories of Vietnam. The series is entitled LRRP Rangers Vietnam, and the first three installments have been published as eBooks. Today, the first review of the first installment was published online, and I am experiencing the same response as earlier–relief and surprise at the flattering comments, and so I boast …
Ms. Sheila Deeth read and reviewed the first installment, Eleven Bravo. She introduces her review with this summary:
Eleven Bravo, by R.W. Holmen chronicles the beginning of a young man’s experience in Veitnam. With pitch-perfect dialog and stunning descriptions and commentary, he brings a time not too long gone to life and clears the way for a series of literary vignettes to come–short, but bold, dark and intense, so read it with a 5-star coffee.
Her full review is reprinted below.
“Somehow, I felt abandoned and much farther away than the man on the moon,” says R.W. Holmen in his short story Eleven Bravo.
The author conveys that abandonment beautifully, setting the Vietnam war into personal and global context with vivid details and telling comments. Characters and place come to life with the words, dialog is pitch perfect, and there are haunting comments I’ll remember long after the story’s done. From FNG (f** new guy) to savvy vet in twenty-three days, from one land to another with various stops for training along the way, from safety to horror, the author shares the experiences of war, bringing sight, scent, and sound into stunning perspective. Climbing in mud with eighty-pound packs, fools on the march while the “fool killer” trails, clearing brush with machetes, arranging mines… the bond and the folly of immortal combat ring loud and clear from the page, and the story’s told with all the realism, language and pathos of experience.
Eleven Bravo is the first in a series of Vietnam vignettes, autobiographical fiction based on true events and bound by story arc into literary gems. The writing is confident and clear, hauntingly honest, brutally true. The story completes a young man’s transformation and leaves the reader eager for the next installment. If this piece is anything to go by, this will be an excellent series of honest depiction and wise commentary, and I’m humbled to have read this first chapter.
Sheila Deeth, writer, illustrator, and prolific book reviewer