Okay, so third edit here. The structure of the book makes the normal query problematic, so I’m bringing the structure in to see if that helps.
I’m participating in a pitch party. If you have an interest in participating (or are just wondering what the heck that is), check out this link.
Title: On Leave From Perdition
Genre: Literary Historical Fiction
Word Count: 95,000
Jim Aurbach traded ambition and academia for mediocrity and joy. He may well have died fat and old, after decades of happy marriage, if his draft number hadn’t come up.
Instead, he returns from Vietnam a drug addict and an emotional wreck.
The novel moves in both directions from his return. Travelling backwards through his tour, it peels away the coping mechanisms he developed in the war, to arrive at the core of what destroyed his identity. Moving forwards from his arrival home, his problems pile up, and he increasingly breaks down.
In Vietnam, it’s a mystery in reverse. Knowing Jim’s the criminal, the reader has to follow the clues back to the crime to find out what could destroy the mind of a man who used to be calm, witty, and kind.
At home in Los Angeles, Jim falls deeper into addiction. As his mind increasingly slips from his control, his vulgar outbursts cost him his job, and are slowly costing him his wife and daughter.
He knows where the razor’s edge lies: keeping the things he did in Vietnam a secret is destroying his sanity, but if he lets those stories out, they will destroy everything else.
ON LEAVE FROM PERDITION, a 96,000 word literary historical novel, captures the confluence of the anti-war movement in America, the criminality of the US Occupation of Vietnam, the open rebellion of US soldiers at the end of the war, and the impact of that maelstrom on the human mind. The novel combines the gritty reality of Full Metal Jacket with the soldier’s postwar angst from A Hard and Heavy Thing as well as both the emotional depth and non-linear artistry of The God of Small Things.
First 250 Words
Zero days left.
Whatever got a soldier out of ‘Nam had the word Freedom emblazoned on it, and whether he had a seat on Air Singapore or grabbed the tail feathers of an albatross, the flight was supposed to bring him back to the world, back to life, liberty, happiness, and all that.
One more false promise.
Travis Air Base, minutes ahead, is our gateway back to the world, but instead of the sensation of freedom, it feels like I’m drowning. The world is closing around my throat, and the looming silence terrifies me; I’m about to spend the rest of my life behind a wall painted with the words, “If you weren’t there, you won’t understand.”
My forward momentum strains against the belt, the wing flaps bend to increase the lift as the engines slow, and the plane pulls backwards as if it too is reluctant to land. The ground approaches, and I find myself wondering if I should have stayed in Vietnam.
The squeal of the rubber hitting the tarmac strikes my ears and I take in a startled breath. My arms search for something to grasp.
Elm looks over at me and asks, “You okay?”
My fury, as if tied down by an aged and cracking rubber band, explodes at Elm’s gentle touch. “You don’t even have a fucking phone? How the fuck am I going to get ahold of you?”
Leaning toward me, as if his response calls for secrecy, he says, “Jim, I have your number. You have my Aunt Janelle’s number. We be able to talk.”
Thank you for reading and responding. I intend to reciprocate for everyone who leaves feedback, so please leave a link to your blog. Good luck in the contest!