I recently noticed that some time ago—more than a year—I left unfinished the story of my books that have received the Eric Hoffer Book Award. That award, among the many my books have received (I have a whole wall in my office dedicated to literary awards), went to two of my books, No-Accounts and Last of the Annamese.
No-Accounts received the award, an Honorable Mention, in 2017. That novel drew on my experience in taking care of AIDS patients at the height of the crisis. Over a period of five years, I had seven patients—all gay, all died. Their lives and deaths moved me so much that I wrote a novel about straight man caring for a gay man dying of AIDS. It is my only published book not about Vietnam.
Last of the Annamese was awarded the runner-up Eric Hoffer Book Award in 2018, that is, the second-place prize. Annamese is another fiction-in-name-only novel. It tells the story of the fall of Saigon. Every event related in the book actually happened.
Evidence to date suggests that in my novels telling stories of events that really happened works well for me. Good thing. I’ve never been able to make up a story. I depend on my memory of the facts.
I’ve believed since I was six years old that I was born to write. My career has taught me that I can only tell the truth disguised as fiction. The awarding of the Eric Hoffer Book Award to my books suggests that I’m doing it right.