Today’s Featured Kindle Book:
Author: James Orsi
Genre: Literary Fiction / Action & Adventure
Mike Conroy, a young marine biologist, goes to Vietnam during the war, hoping to help the Oceanographic Institute at Nhatrang, a lovely coastal city, which is supposed to be an oasis in the fighting. He does not expect to have his first restaurant meal shattered by a bomb, nor does he expect to fall in love with Nam Hai, a young woman named after the South Sea. Together, they dive on the reefs, study the fish, and plan how to persuade her parents to let them marry.
But in a cavern in the malachite mountains that ring the city, a regiment of North Vietnamese soldiers is preparing an attack set for the New Year holiday of Tet, the same day that Nam’s parents have invited Mike to visit them. Because her father works for the Americans, Nam’s family has been placed on a death list and Mike and other civilians quartered at Guest House Two are also targets of the North Vietnamese. The death squad is composed of three North Vietnamese soldiers, all of whom are reluctant to execute Vietnamese civilians. One of them, Canh, who expects his own child to be born on Tet, cannot stand the thought of sending a child out of the world on the same day his own may come into it.
The book brings Vietnam to life, the war, the land, the people… “The beach at Nhatrang was curved in a long semi-circle, bent like a bow from the pressure of the waves smashing in from the South China Sea. It curved from the village of Cau Da at the mouth of the southern river where fishing nets were strung between poles to dry in the sun, to the mouth of the northern estuary, the Son Cha, where the single-lane highway bridge spanned green water and brown mud flats, and steel-roofed shacks stood on stilts over the mud that was wet and sticky when the tide went out.”
The story has echoes of “Romeo and Juliet” and “South Pacific…” “Mike laughed. “You really are an imp. If I marry you, I’ll have to get you exorcized first or you’ll always be sticking your pitchfork in me.”
Nam stroked his face. “Oh, I would never do that,” she said angelically. “It is you who will penetrate me many, many times.”
Mike laughed. “Yes, I’ll do that. Many, many times.”
Hopes and dreams are shattered…”Blood bubbled out of her punctured smock, her wide-open eyes stared at him, uncomprehendingly. Then her eyelids fluttered like butterflies while the light ebbed out of her irises. Canh watched in horror as her soul faded into nothingness and her eyes closed. Her left hand finally opened. The crumpled paper rolled out and a sudden breeze flicked it away.”
“Lost in War” is based on actual events and draws a vivid picture of decent people on both sides thrown together and mangled by forces beyond their control in man’s special pastime- war.
About the Author:
I grew up in the Bronx, New York, not far from Little Italy. In the gym at Mount Carmel School in Little Italy some of the Golden Glovers I boxed had families in the Mob – and the middleweight champ was gay. When it was time for college I walked to the nearby oasis of Fordham University along streets where Robert DeNiro would later film “Bronx Tale.” At Fordham, I took an honors class in English taught by Fr. Tim Healy, S.J., who later became president of the New York Public Library and a speechwriter for Bill Clinton. Fr. Tim awarded me a “D” for my efforts in his class, but, hey, it was honors English and homework was like write five sonnets on the same topic and finish Chaucer’s unfinished Canterbury tale. I went on to the U. of Washington in rainy Seattle and earned a degree in fish biology. Then followed a job with the California Dept. of Fish and Game in a dull city named Stockton. Seeking excitement I persuaded the State Dept. to send me to Vietnam in 1967 as advisor to the Oceanographic Institute at Nhatrang (I was 4-F for military service). Neither the VC nor the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) appeared to be pleased by my arrival. The VC promptly bombed my quarters and the restaurant where I ate. The NVA attacked my quarters (as well as the whole city) during the infamous Tet attacks. The U.S. Air Force also got in the act and dropped a couple of 500 pound bombs in my vicinity. Life was no longer dull. After a year I returned to Stockton where I did research on aquatic invertebrates and eventually became a scientific editor. Along the way I married a Chinese-American beauty and became father of two sons and then grandfather to five grandkids. Then one morning something triggered the memory of a great white shark torpedoing towards my boat off Hon Tre Island in the South China Sea. And that sparked such a flash flood of memories and emotions that I sat down to begin writing “Lost in War.” I wish Fr. Healy could have lived long enough to read it. Maybe he would have raised my grade.
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