Sunday, November 29, 2020

Book review: MASH by Richard Hooker (historical fiction)

 Augustus Bedford "Duke" Forrest and Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce spend eighteen life-changing months serving in the 4077 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in South Korea in the early 1950s--during the Korean war.

(Because I bought the ebook version I don't have any fancy book jacket to photograph--just one reason I love paperbacks)

Buy this book

Published by William Morrow

an imprint of HarperCollins

Publishing in 1968

The book opens, in the middle of November 1951, with Radar O'Reilly's comment that Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake 'is trying for two new cutters'. Enter Duke and Hawkeye. The "boys" quickly endear themselves to their new Colonel by doing the best and most work.

Hawkeye and Duke devalue (undervalue) rules in favour of compassion, skill, and humour. (I laughed out loud.)

Most chapters are utilized to introduce new characters--until we meet a camp full. The character that shows the most growth throughout the length of the story is "Trapper" John McIntyre. In chapter three we meet the 6 foot 130-pound chest surgeon from Winchester, Boston who hides in his parka.

Duke says of Trapper:  '" the strangest son-of-a... I ever did see. If he wasn't the best chest-cutter in the Far East Command, I'd kick his ass out of this here tent."'

The chapter concludes with Hawkeye introducing Trapper to everyone in the mess hall by saying... 

'"Gentlemen, this here is Trapper John, the pride of Winchester, Dartmouth College, and Tent Number Six, and if any of you uneducated b... don't like it you'll have to answer to Duke Forrest and Hawkeye Pierce."'

Thanks to the support he receives from Hawkeye and Duke, Trapper emerges from his parka to become the 4077's chief surgeon. 

from Google images

I was attracted to this book because I was a devoted fan of the TV show (One of my first crushes was on Hawkeye.) The book lent itself very nicely to being developed for TV. In fact, some of the chapters reminded me of episodes. The book format allowed room for backstory that TV couldn't afford. However, I found some of the language and attitudes expressed in the book dated, but that didn't stop me from loving this book. As well the book is lacking the anti-war sentiment that the TV show champions. William Hornberger told a New York Times journalist that his father 'hadn't intended to write an anti-war book. "My father was a political conservative, and he did not like the liberal tendencies that Alan Alda portrayed Hawkeye Pierce as having."' (Why the Real-Life Hawkeye Pierce Hated MASH by Erin Blakemore)

MASH is a raw look at army life.

Author Richard Hooker writes in the Foreward...

'Most of the docotors who worked in Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals during the Korean War were very young... [T]hey acheived the best results up to that time in the history of military surgery...

The various stresses...produced behavior in many of them that...seemed inconsistent with their earlier, civilian behavior patterns. A few flipped their lides, but most of them just raised hell.'  

 *My husband--in the name of being more environmentally conscious--persuaded me to buy MASH as an ebook. It was an interesting experiment, but I far prefer paperbacks. For one, I missed the pretty book cover.  

About the author...

Hiester Richard Hornberger Jr. was born in Trenton, New Jersey. He died seventy-three years later in Waterville, Maine. In between times, he studied medicine, became a surgeon, and served in the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean war. To deal with the trauma Hornberger experienced during the war, he began to write MASH. It took him twelve years to complete the book and five years to find a publisher. In 1968, MASH was published under his pseudonym Richard Hooker.

Virtual Author Reading

Wednesday, December 2

a short poem to fills us.

And for your listening pleasure, I will also read...

a short story that gives an example of how NOT to participant in a writers' group.

photo by ldyck

December's offerings...

Sunday, December 6
Short Story
The End (horror? humour?)
by Leanne Dyck

Will writers view this short story as horror? Will non-writers view it as humour? I wonder... I'm looking forward to hearing what you think.
And I couldn't resist beginning the book with The End

Wednesday, December 9
Virtual Author Reading
Blue Christmas (humour)
by Leanne Dyck

Christmas from Mrs. Clause's point-of-view

Sunday, December 13
Book Review
The Mystery of Black Hollow (mystery)
by Julia Nobel 

A mystery novel for middle grade readers. American Emmy Willick moves to England to attend Wellsworth--a boarding school.

Wednesday, December 16
Virtual Author Reading
Christmas with Family
by Leanne Dyck

A short story about how my husband, my cousin, and a kind stranger saved my Christmas.

Sunday, December 20
Short Story
Ice Angel
by Leanne Dyck

Inspired by a true story about meeting a little girl who added magic to my life--and uplifted me when I was feeling lost and alone.

Wednesday, December 24
Short Story
Office Party
by Leanne Dyck

Inspired by a true story about attending my husband's office party.
This is my Christmas present to you. I hope you enjoy your gift.

Sunday, December 27
2020:  My List of Accomplishments
Leanne Dyck

photo by bdyck

Are you following me?

Linked In


photo by ldyck

Sharing my author's journey...

In a month when many in the writing community have pumped out 50,000 words...

word count:  15,119 words

goal:  40,000+ words 

The more words I add to this manuscript the clearer the story 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Book Review: All We Left Behind by Danielle R. Graham (historical fiction romance)

 Set on Mayne Island, from 1941 to 1945, All We Left Behind is a sweet romance between Hayden Pierce and Chidori Setoguchi.

Buy this book

Published by One More Chapter

a division of Harper Collins Publishers

Published in 2020

'You didn't go and get sweet on that Jap girl now, did you?' (p. 15)

Prejudice is always there, around every turn, doggedly following Chidori--framing every tender moment with Hayden.

Chidori writes in her diary:  'Hayden is the only thing that truly brings joy to my heart during these harrowing times.' (p. 130)

Things go from bad to worse when, on Tuesday 21 April 1942, fifty Japanese Canadians are forced to leave Mayne Island. Frustrated because he is unable to prevent this injustice and enraged at being separated from his sweetheart, Hayden enlists with the Royal Air Force. And he faces the horrors of war--but he keeps Chidori's picture in his breast pocket. Memories of her buoyed him up at times of greatest peril, at times of greatest tragedy. 

In her Author Notes, Danielle R. Graham explains her reason for writing this novel...

'if [we] truly understand history [we] will be able to acknowledge the mistakes that were made, recognize prejudice when it is being repeated, stop messages of fear and bias from spreading, and have the courage to stand up for what is right.' (p. 350)

Graham uses a delicate hand and remains faithful to the era while writing funny and tender moments between Hayden and Chidori.

I can't imagine a better book to read during this month of remembrance. 

In All We Left Behind, Graham repeats this quote from Albert Camus, French philosopher and writer...

'In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me there's something stronger--something better, pushing right back.' 

Virtual (author) Reading...

Wednesday, November 25

I'll once again record two reads...

Gloves in My Pocket (poem)

a silly poem--my attempt at brightening things up a bit.

What's Wrong with Michelle? (short story)

Sarah thinks she knows and wants Amanda's help to correct things in Michelle's life.

Next Sunday...

Sunday, November 29

Did you know that this popular TV show was inspired by a book? What book? What is the book like? Is it similar to the show--in what way? Is it different? All these questions and more, hopefully, will be answered next Sunday. Well, at least I'll supply my answer to these questions. 

The only thing All We Left Behind is lacking (IMHO), is a word or two at the 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Is She Me? (short story) by Leanne Dyck

This short story is intended as an anthem for women of a certain age.

                                                                photo by ldyck

Is She Me?

Tonight was such a blast. My head is still buzzing from the music, from the beer. I kick off my high heels, hang up my mini skirt, and crawl into bed. I'm so tired that I could sleep for years.

I wake to sunlight pouring through the window. My bladder is going to burst. Stiff cardboard legs down the hall to the bathroom. 

I look in the mirror. Wrinkles. Who's she? Grey hair. Wait! Wait, is she me? 

Back in my bedroom red numbers on my alarm clock--3:33 AM. Too early! But I flick on the light. No kicked off high heels. All I can find is 'comfortable' shoes. I search through my closet. The mini skirt is only a memory. My heart hurts. I grieve the loss of time, of youth. But I refuse to crumble.

I look in the mirror again. Those are my mom's laugh lines. I remember seeing those wrinkles on my aunt's neck. Wise compassionate women who I modeled myself after. Why should I stop now?  

Virtual (author) Reading...

Wednesday, November 18

Leanne Dyck

Before facing a particular number of candles on my birthday cake, I considered mourning but instead gathered a group of wise women. Women who I knew I could rely on to help me celebrate the passage of time. We meet at the Mayne Island labyrinth. As we walked the labyrinth we recited Mother, May I. Before, during, and after the informal ceremony, I felt supported and uplifted. It was an amazing way to celebrate. 

And also
A Star (short story)
Leanne Dyck

This is one of the first stories I recorded. Unfortunately, a glitch forced me to remove that recording. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to rewrite the story. Revisions are done, it's time to re-record the story.

Next Sunday...

Sunday, November 22

Book Review:  
All We Left Behind
Danielle R. Graham

A war-time romance between Chidori and Hayden. Set on Mayne Island--a remote island off Canada's west coast (my island home).

photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

This week I...

Watched an informative YouTube video...
Thanks to author Pam Withers who shared this link with me.

Watched a fun YouTube video with 
and learned about his new book Clan--a novel set in the ice age

word count: 10,611 words
goal:  40,000+

A rough draft of the introduction to my manuscript is complete. Hooray!

As I work on this manuscript, I've been fighting my natural inclination to write short (short stories, novellas) by discovering ways to write long.

For example...

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Book Review: How to Pronounce Knife stories by Souvankham Thammavongsa (short story collection)

Congratulations to Souvankham Thammavongsa for writing How to Pronounce Knife which won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize

How to Pronounce Knife is a collection of 14 short stories. All but two of the protagonists are immigrants Canadians from Laos. They are children, a factory worker, a senior citizen, an ex-boxer, small businesspeople, farm labourers, a cleaner. They are disempowered people. Even if, like Mr. Vong (from the short story The Universe Would Be So Cruel), they hold a position of respect in their community they discover that they are still powerless against outside forces. 

Many of these stories are tinged with sadness. Many are earthy, gritty stories. 

Following in the tradition of authors such as John Steinbeck, Souvankham Thammavongsa uses her considerable talent to champion the underdog. People that many of us may not have known existed if not for her. 

Buy this book

Published by McClelland & Stewart

an imprint of Penguin Random House

Published in 2020

Virtual Reading...

Wednesday, November 11 

Remembrance Day

I will read my short story "Remembering Him"

--and oh boy will this be a challenge for me to read.

Next Sunday...

November 15

Short story:  

Is She Me?

Leanne Dyck

This short story is intended as an anthem for women of a certain age.

'found art' photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

word count:  8,555 words
goal:  40,000+ words

I reached a new high with my manuscript. After days, weeks 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Bedtime Story (short story) by Leanne Dyck

photo by ldyck

Reading books can make memories that will last a lifetime. 

A Bedtime Story

In my footie pajamas, I crawl onto my dad's lap and snuggle up close to his flannel shirt. Soap and water can't hide his farmer's cologne--a  blend of sheep, hay, and soil.

He always begins my stories in the same way, "In the land of here and now and right away, lived a little girl named Gwen, or was it Amy?

"Her hair was golden blonde or black. Does it matter?

"She was your age. Or was she older? Or a little younger? Oh, you know, it doesn't really matter.

"She lived a humdrum life, in a ho-hum way, but one day, one day..."

He recounts one of my daily adventures and makes it magical. I'm rocked to sleep by his words. My dad is a magnificent storyteller.

Virtual Reading...

Wednesday, November 4

This short story was inspired by my years working as an Early Childhood Educator caring for children in daycare centres.

(Thank you for your input on this--I truly appreciate it.)

Next Sunday...

Book Review:  How to Pronounce Knife 
Souvankham Thammavongsa

Short story collection

Short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize

Are you following me?

Linked In

Sharing my author's journey...

word count:  6,917 words
goal:  40,000+ words

How often do you send manuscripts to publishers?