A question from a reader prompts me to talk about my publishing history. In yesterday’s post about pride, I mentioned that I couldn’t get my books about Vietnam published for years because the U.S. populace didn’t want to hear about the war. Then about five years ago, things changed. Younger Americans wanted to know what happened during the war. My books found publishers.
By 2012, I’d despaired of getting my Vietnam novels into print, so I self-published Friendly Casualties, a novel in short stories, as an ebook on Amazon.com. The book’s Foreword explains its origin: “This novel-in-stories results from the many years I spent in Vietnam during the war. Nearly all the characters are based on people I knew, many of them killed by the Vietnamese Communists. Most of the incidents described are drawn from real events or an amalgam of happenings. Even now, after almost forty years, I still hurt. And I’m one of the lucky ones.”
Quoting from an earlier blog post about the book: “Friendly Casualties uses a form I’ve never encountered with any other writer. The first half of the book, called ‘Triage,’ is a series of interrelated short stories, eight in all, that relate fictional versions of happenings I had encountered in my thirteen years in and out of Vietnam. The second half, ‘Healing,’ is a novella that weaves together the events in those stories, uses some of the same characters, and shows how so many events during the war were interdependent.
“To my surprise, Friendly Casualties was a critical success. Seven readers gave it a five-star review on Amazon.com. They accurately divined my intent, to portray all participants in the Vietnam war, men and women, Vietnamese and Americans, as casualties.”
My shame was diluted and my pride revived. Readers understood that I and other Vietnam veterans are and remain casualties, men who sacrificed for the good of their country.