Existing for Our Own Sake: Adin Dobkin’s Take on the State of War Writing

Yesterday, Adin Dobkin published a longform piece in the ever-terrific Los Angeles Review of Books evaluating the current state of war literature. “The Never-Ending Book of War” looks at recent war literature as part of a very long literary and historical tradition, one that, sadly, seems destined to forever repeat itself.

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There are aspects of Dobkin’s article that I appreciate tremendously; for one, his attention to the state of the “forever wars” in our new political climate. The regime change has not left Dobkin optimistic, something he shares with most veterans and active-duty service members I know.

I also am grateful that he poses a question that will outlive these wars, one which has existed throughout any of the “hot” or “cold” wars that have come before:

Alongside the end of each war came a new opportunity to never forget. But to what degree do we do anything with these memories besides allowing them to exist for their own sake?

It’s an excellent question, and one that quite frankly haunts me as we pass from one series of war literature to another.

Have we learned anything? Does reading war literature actually make the literate public more cautious about war, or do they read each book or memoir as its own, particular, lessonless experience? How on earth can we ever make our society more hesitant to commit its young men and women (and the citizens of whatever far-flung countries they are sent to) to warfighting when even great works such as the Iliad and our own national Book Award-winner’s collection have, so far, not?

As Simone Weil asks, is is possible to learn “not to admire force, not to hate the enemy?”

The recent election has left me with little hope that our voting public can make any reasonable judgment calls about international conflict, or (indulge me a little, please) about basically anything whatsoever. So I greatly appreciate Dobkin’s statements on the fine line war literature walks: its duty to render without glorifying, to produce critical thought without crass patriotism or jingoism.

War writers, he says, “must confront those who stand to gain from simplifying [war’s] complexity.” We have now seen the harrowing power of the simplification of service and sacrifice. It can take on a meaning all its own, one in which veterans actually participate very little.

Perhaps those simplifying the meaning of war are not, in fact, reading war literature; I’m willing to bet they aren’t. But is that a solvable problem? And is it our veteran-writers’ problem to solve?

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For all his historical and literary thoughtfulness, to my mind Dobkin misses the boat on a few critical issues. Now, this isn’t my favorite kind of response to make, because it is “easy” and doesn’t require an engagement with what the author is actually saying, but: I can’t help wonder what made Dobkin feel like he could write an “update” to the state of recent war literature without accounting for a single female veteran-writer, or writer of color. He does not limit himself to novelists, and he mentions the recent collection The Road Ahead, which features fiction by several well-known and well-respected female veteran writers and writers of color, so it’s mysterious to me why he cannot try to make a more cohesive and inclusive account of the state of war lit.

When he does mention one woman writer — the highly acclaimed fiction writer and military spouse Siobhan Fallon — she’s called “informationally privileged.” I see what Dobkin is getting at — that Fallon’s attempt to bridge the military-civilian divide is being made by a writer on the “inside,”  not some unusually well-meaning and astute civilian, thereby giving her informational “privilege” — but, on the other hand, I don’t consider it “privileged” to weather multiple yearlong stints on the home front, with very small children, while trying to create intelligent and meaningful art, and I doubt Dobkin would have actually referenced any male veteran-writer in the same way. Because that would be ridiculous. But this also shows an ignorance as to what military families actually give, and continue to give, when their service members are active-duty for careers that span these long, long wars.

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In any case, as a military wife and a novelist myself, I consider any attention to the mil spouse community a sort of “extra credit”; I never expect it and would never think to demand it, though I am pleasantly surprised when a reviewer pays us any mind at all. To leave female veterans out of the equation, however, is a far more grievous error. The whole “Welllll…..they aren’t really writing fiction the way the men are” argument is wearing thin, and in fact The Road Ahead, as well as numerous print and online publications, has nullified it entirely. If nothing else, an article that lauds the cross-cultural attentiveness of Eliot Ackerman (and goes so far as to compare him to Erich Maria Remarque) would read as far more informed if it also considered Kristen L. Rouse, whose short story, “Pawns,” does what Ackerman’s novels do equally well, and arguably in a more potent fashion. It seems that Dobkin is at this point proceeding on willful ignorance, and that concerns me.

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Over the past few years, I have learned a few things about war literature. One: that it is a small community, devoted and highly intelligent, but one that does not always extend vastly beyond its own boundaries. It is easy to read the community’s own enthusiasm for a larger national enthusiasm which cannot match it. People on the outside are frequently tacitly supportive. But the length to which their support goes may illustrate the larger national problem: war fatigue; an exhaustion with celebrating heroes who rarely ask for it and who in fact are more often than not embarrassed by it; a simple desire to turn to more fun, escapist subject matter, the “Gone Girls” and “Twilights” of the past ten years. Will we, then, see a veteran-vampire saga, or a straight-up, highly sexed murder mystery set among active-duty service members? (These books surely exist, but have not hit the mainstream.) Will that, then, be progress?

More optimistically, the communities Dobkin fails to reference may be the very communities from which we’ll see the most, and most experimental, writing over the next few years. Women veterans are writing with a focus and drive like never before, and as for us military spouses, well, we are still plugging along. The pressures of this new administration, and what our families are asked to do (or not), could be the crucible which brings forth a new era of mil-spouse writers, a new cast of characters, a new urgency. Hell, maybe we’ll see the first male mil-spouse novel. Who knows?

For better or worse, the pressure cooker is still on high, and veterans/service-members who write, and their writing family members, can either hunker down and wait it out, or churn out that goddamn pearl from within the oyster.

‘Your Name’

In ‘Your Name’ — Japan’s top film of 2016 — a teenage girl named Mitsuha lives in a remote, traditional fictional town called Itomori. Itomori is beautiful — mountains rimming a huge lake — but Mitsuha longs to get out.

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Mitsuha is a sweet girl, not naturally rebellious, but the opposing roles of her family members’ public service have begun to stress her in different ways. Her estranged father’s mayoral candidacy makes her feel exposed, while her grandmother’s traditional religious beliefs bring mockery upon Mistuha by some of her mean, “cool-girl” classmates — particularly when they spy her helping to prepare the ‘kuchikami no sake,’ traditional sake made from the spit of a virgin, for her grandmother’s offering to the gods.

In frustration, Mitsuha runs to the bottom of the shrine’s stairs and screams, “I wish I were a handsome, teenage boy in Tokyo!” The wind whips her words away and her cheeks redden, anime-style, with a vertical scribble of blush. But her wish will come true, with a twist: she begins a regular, involuntary swapping-of-bodies with a teenage boy named Taki. Suddenly she finds herself waking up in Taki’s bed, riding the Tokyo subway, navigating by cell phone.

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And Taki — who does not seem to necessarily have had any prior wish to inhabit the body of a rural adolescent girl, but is remarkably game about it once he figures out what’s going on — finds himself, for a day at a time, living in Mitsuha’s body, wowing her PE basketball team with sudden major skills, walking to school along rural roads, and every morning (in an understandable sight gag for what’s, at its most basic level, a YA film) groping his newfound breasts.

It sounds a little comical, and as a plotline would not necessarily have lured me in on its own merits, except that writer-director Makoto Shinkai makes some decisions that elevate the film well above typical rom-com or animated-film fare. The second half of the movie opens into a much larger rumination on human connection, empathy, and the delicate interplay of individual and collective memory. “I feel like I’ve been living in a dream about someone else’s life,” Mitsuha thinks — and what is reading a novel, or watching a film, if not that?

On an immediate level, the plot hinges on a not-unheard-of cinematic question: What if you could go back in time and prevent a tragedy, save the life of someone you love?

On a larger level: What connects us? How do things that have happened to other people — tragedies so large they reach the level of legend, that are buried deep in cultural memory — often feel so resonant to us, so moving and so huge? Is that empathy? Is it something else?

My personal entry point into the film: I’ve had a soft spot for Japan ever since taking place in an exchange program there in the 8th grade. A dozen other 8th graders and I got to travel to the town of Otofuke (O-TOFE-kay — not Oto-fookey as our well-meaning principal helplessly called it, no matter how many times we corrected him) on Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, after having hosted Japanese students in our northern California hometown earlier that year. Otofuke toed the line between suburban and rural, with modest houses, potato fields, mountains, schools. We twelve bumbling, slightly pimply and awkward American pre-adolescents were welcomed with an openness and generosity that was humbling. We even had to put on kimonos (at least, the girls did) and deliver speeches to the mayor, written out phonetically, in Japanese. Then we had a talent show that ended with everyone singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

In feel, if not quite in visual splendor, Otofuke came to mind again as I watched Mitsuha tend to her chores and walk to school with her little sister. She calls Itomori “the sticks,” and it must feel that way to her, but it’s based on Japan’s breathtaking Lake Suwa and the artwork for it is stunning: watercolor vistas of mountains, layered clouds, shimmering lake and fields which provide a respite from what, in other scenes, feels to me like an occasional stylistic over-cropping.

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Likewise, the film’s cityscapes of Tokyo are gorgeous, featuring many real locations such as the Suga Shrine and Shinanomachi Station, and are rendered in exquisite detail — a brisk contrast to the sleepy natural/spiritual world of Itomori.

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The underpass in Shinjuku, Tokyo, as shown in ‘Your Name’

Luminous and layered, the artwork actually reminds me a lot of the images from anime-inflected Big Hero Six, for which a whole computer was dedicated just to the development of the world of Sanfransokyo. Interestingly, the two films also share a concern with time-space travel and lost loved ones.

In any case, ‘Your Name’ is worth watching for the visuals alone. I’m no expert on anime, and perhaps for that reason I find some of its conventions a little distracting (the occasional gaspy breathiness and penchant for overreaction, the enlarged quivering eyeballs and slightly fetishistic schoolgirl thing). But, Taki and Mitsuha are so endearingly rendered that I could easily move past what must be an American English-major’s desire for gritty realism and enjoy their characters in all their fumbling, well-meaning, adolescent confusion and joy.

The score is entirely written and performed by the Japanese band, the Radwimps, a name that makes me chuckle every single time I think of it.

The Radwimps have plenty of talent (I listened to them for a whole afternoon, and you can, too – within minutes you will easily forget that you cannot understand a thing they are saying, unless of course you speak Japanese) and they match the emotional tenor of the film perfectly.

At first shocked by the body-swapping that’s taking place, Mitsuha and Taki soon move into attitudes of genuine friendliness and curiosity. They write notes for one another to find when they wake up. They coach one another through life decisions — particularly Mitsuha, who finds that, to Taki’s slight chagrin, his female crush at work is suddenly charmed by his new “feminine side.” Mitsuha — a little delighted by her unexpected power — uses this to arrange a date for Taki, who struggles to live up to the femininity he’s accidentally acquired. The joke is funny but meaningful, too.

Director Shinkai links all that is natural and gentle with the feminine — as with Mitsuha’s all-female family (her sister and grandmother), tending to the shrine and to nature, whereas Taki lives in the bustling, sharp, angular city — in an essentialist way that might make some hard-core feminists raise an eyebrow. But the generous nature of her and Taki’s gender exchange, the primacy of Mitsuha’s point of view to the story and her strength which equals Taki’s, gradually make that less pressing. Shinkai, anyway, seems much more concerned with the idea of union and connection. He uses thread as a visual nudge toward this idea throughout the film. Mitsuha, her sister, and grandmother weave at a traditional loom, and the red ribbon she wears in her hair (with its parallel in Taki’s red bracelet) is prominent in scene after scene. Mitsuha ties it into her hair every morning; when Taki’s inhabiting her body it serves as a little sight gag, always tied haphazardly and falling to the side. In more urgent moments of the film it takes on a much larger and even dynamic presence, sweeping around them and connecting them.

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You can only imagine my delight, poking around on Google Translate, upon learning that the Japanese word ito means “thread or string,” while mori, of course, is self-explanatory.

Which leads us to the serious part of the film: During Itomori’s annual star festival, the comet the townspeople gather to watch will split, and one part of it will fall upon the town, destroying it and leaving a vast crater in its wake.

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Taki realizes that he has been living just ahead of Mitsuha in the future — three years, in fact — and that he has a chance to save her, if only he can go back, find her, and convince her.

This is where the film lifts into something larger than a teenage love story and into a commentary on tragedy, humanity, and cultural memory. You can’t help but feel the horrible inevitability as the comet splits and dives toward Itomori, the broken thread. The visuals from the star festival are breathtaking, the Radwimps are on point, singing their hearts out; and the gentleness with which the message is delivered is so touching and genuinely humane that [can a reviewer admit this without losing face?] I was a little choked up.

Shinkai’s brilliance lies in the fact that his references have multiple touchpoints. While the moment of the comet’s strike clearly suggests the hit of a bomb — a few brief seconds, but very powerful ones, of billowing clouds and irrecoverable, monumental loss — there are other, more recent references that a Japanese audience might feel very keenly, such as the 2011 tsunami, in which nearly 16,000 people died.

In what seems a very Japanese fashion, there is no overt finger-pointing from Shinkai. We all know that, at least when it comes to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what took place was no natural disaster but its polar, man-made opposite. Shinkai is perhaps more gentle and more generous, here, than he needs to be. But his focus on the human side of loss is undeniably moving.


Here Be Dragons: On Dual Parenting After a Life of Military Separations

Reviewed by Amy Bermudez (Army)

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Here Be Dragons: A Parent’s Guide to Rediscovering Purpose, Adventure, and the Unfathomable Joy of the Journey bills itself as a parent’s guide, but I think it’s so much more universal than that. Annmarie and Ken narrate alternating chapters as they recount their journey from college co-eds to a family of five in the span of 17 years with 11 (yes, 11!) moves in the middle of it all.

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Author Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh and daughters

Annmarie worked as a teacher with challenging students and her husband was in the Navy. They both eventually moved on from those careers, but you can tell that they answered a calling to forge a difficult path. I really loved that! Hat tip to people who choose the tough road. They shared their wisdom through all of life’s changes and challenges, and that’s what I was needing to hear. (Not to mention, the writing is beautifully lyrical; you don’t need to be going through a tough time to appreciate it.)

Part of me wished that they shared more about their marital struggles. That’s probably just because I can’t relate to parenting struggles, and for all I know, there weren’t that many marital issues. Besides, it would be particularly tricky water to navigate if you are writing a book with and still married to a person and you are re-telling fights from years past. I admire the way the Harbaughs approach life and writing. I kind of want to be Annmarie. (In a Freaky Friday way, not in a creepy Silence of the Lambs way.)

The book resonated with me so much that I ended up passing it along to a dear friend who is not only a fellow Army wife but also a new mommy. I don’t know that she’s gotten the chance to read it much (see that whole new mom thing), but I hope that as she also navigates life’s challenges, that she appreciates the humor, wisdom, and wit as much as I did in Here Be Dragons.

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The Harbaughs

You will love this book if you are in the military or a family member, if you live a topsy-turvy life, or if you appreciate a well-told tale.

My favorite part was everything about the family dog! The book is so not about the dog, but I read that last chapter with tears in my eyes, nodding my head, and petting ol’ Geronimo. (My old dog turns 11 in July. 11!) I also really enjoyed the section about the family’s struggle after their second child was born. I could relate to the haze that can temporarily settle over your life and cloud out everything else.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5! This was a can’t-put-down book for me, and I can always use more of those on my nightstand.

Buy Here Be Dragons

About the Authors:

From the book’s Amazon page:

harbaugh1Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh is a mother, teacher, and dog lover — and an above-average cook and below-average housekeeper. Both a dancing queen and a brick house, she is an avid reader of cooking websites, fitness magazines, and articles that promise she’ll lose weight fast. Annmarie earned her National Board Certification in English Language Arts, holds a masters in urban education from Yale University, and has been a beloved teacher at half a dozen high schools from Florida to Seattle.  Annmarie’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, New York Observer, and on National Public Radio.

harbaugh2Ken Harbaugh has flown reconnaissance missions off North Korea, researched war crimes in Afghanistan, and deployed in response to natural disasters both at home and abroad. He co-founded ‘The Mission Continues,’ an award-winning nonprofit that empowers military veterans to find purpose through community impact. He is currently the president of Team Rubicon Global, an organization that provides veterans around the world with opportunities to serve others in the wake of natural disasters. Ken’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and the Yale Journal of International Law. He is not as funny as his wife.

Annmarie and Ken live in Avon, Ohio with their three children and an assortment of dying houseplants. Follow them at DadvMom.com, an online community dedicated to the proposition that couples can love one another and their children at the same time. Mostly.”

About the reviewer: 

 

moiAmy Bermudez is a writer, educator, and Army wife currently stationed in Tennessee. Some of her published articles include “Our Military Family, Our Reality” on The Huffington Post and “Moving is Not Following” on Spouse Buzz. She has reviewed Alice Bliss , Here, Bullet, and We Are Called to Rise for the Mil Spouse Book Review.

 

a season without thoughts

Sometimes the balance between everyday life and trying to make art, or write, feels unequally stacked. A few months alone with children can feel like you are being told: “It’s a few months before you can have thoughts again. It’s a few months before you are going to make anything worthwhile. Sorry. Just live in the moment for a while, even though that’s not in your nature.”
 
Living solely in the moment can be difficult when there are things you want to make. There’s a world of words and ideas you want to participate in, but they feel out of reach. Sometimes you chide yourself: “You big baby, it’s not like you work in the diamond mines! Suck it up.”
 
I’m behind on a novel deadline. I’m behind on a deadline for a writer I mentor, though he’s been incredibly cool and understanding about it. Like everybody else on earth, I’m behind on five million personal goals (books I want to write about, things I want to read, laundry I need to freaking do).
 
But I kept all children and pets alive and healthy today. I took care of a friend’s child and got her and my own kids to school. They ate reasonably healthy lunches. They did their homework. They played outside and didn’t do a grotesque amount of screen time (only borderline grotesque). They had showers and baths. Susanna shouted, “I found you a SURPRISE!!!” and brought me a penny. I threw the ball for our dog so she wouldn’t go bonkers. And I did sneak in a tiny bit of poetry reading while the kids played, Elyse Fenton‘s ‘Sweet Insurgent’ and Lisa Houlihan Stice‘s ‘Uniform,’ and they were absolutely the perfect, perfect things for me to be reading today. I am grateful for people who have also weathered stretches where it was very hard for them to make art, either because of work or school or wartime or parenthood or illness or who knows what, and I am holding their example close today.

The Gumshoe Wore Combat Boots: M.L. Doyle’s Sergeant Harper Mysteries

Once I started in on author M.L. Doyle’s “Master Sergeant Harper” mystery series, featuring career soldier Lauren Harper, they were so much fun that I devoured one after another, thanks to my insidious enabler, Amazon Prime. Set in far-flung locales like Bosnia, Honduras, England, and Germany, each novel or companion short presents Master Sgt. Lauren Harper with a mystery she must solve, with risk to both her own life and to the lives of other people caught up in the greed and violence of those in positions of either local, or institutional, power.

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author M.L. Doyle

 

Writing mysteries set among the day-to-day operations of mostly non-combat, deployed soldiers is a rather brilliant premise by Doyle; when you have a number of often-very-young people interacting with one another (and with a local population) away from home, someone is going to get in trouble. If they are lucky, the trouble is only absurd or inconvenient for everyone involved, but if they aren’t so lucky, there could be a real mess.

That’s where Master Sgt. Lauren Harper comes in. Her career in public affairs has given her a nose for situational nuance and interpretation, as well as a very good camera — all of which come in handy.

The first Master Sergeant Harper mystery, The Peacekeeper’s Photograph, opens in Bosnia in the mid-nineties, where Harper is part of a NATO peacekeeping mission. The “peace” ends within the first few pages, however, when Harper returns to her trailer after a day in the field and finds one of her soldiers, Specialist Virginia Delray, brutally murdered. Delray and Harper weren’t exactly friends, but Harper carries some guilt about not having helped “her soldier” more. As Harper herself becomes a suspect and the murder investigation seems hopelessly misled, she takes a larger role, which hinges on some of the photos on Delray’s camera — luckily, preserved by Delray’s grieving but proactive boyfriend. The photos help uncover a much deeper ring of violence and exploitation, a circle of trouble that nearly costs Harper her life.

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But it also brings her closer to an unlikely friend and eventual lover, the charmingly rough-around-the-edges Sergeant Major Harry Fogg, a British bachelor-with-a-heart-of-gold. He appreciates Lauren from the get-go; she is good at many things and one of them is preparing tea, and you can almost hear her smiling to herself beneath his admiring gaze: “I pulled out several selections of teas and watched Fogg’s reaction as he realized I wasn’t messing around.”

This relationship with Harry helps spare Lauren the pain of her earlier, ill-fated crush on a superior, Colonel Neil McCallen. McCallen reveals himself to be a bit of a spineless ninny and a narcissist, but something about his flaming red hair and facial scar appeal to Lauren, who has used excuses over the past couple of years to avoid being alone with him — mainly out of a general sense of protocol, and not exactly guilt over poor “Michelle and the boys” who are waiting at home, with Michelle due in another three months. As with many of the other backstage issues raised in Doyle’s books, deployment infidelity–either real or imagined– and the somewhat prickly dichotomy between the military spouse waiting faithfully at home, and the single female soldier spending months or a year in the field with a man who may consider himself a temporary bachelor, is rendered with a light touch but serious reverberations, and it’s just one of the many things Doyle does well.

Thank God, anyway, for Harry Fogg, who plays a major role in getting Lauren out of the scrape she’s in near the end of the novel (though the bravest course of action is taken by Lauren herself). “Scrape” is putting it too mildly: Doyle gives Lauren a taste of the degradation and even slavery which most Americans will hopefully never  experience. It’s a serious and poignant move, a statement on the freedoms many people worldwide, especially women, do not have, and the lengths to which people will go to try to escape their circumstances, even if that requires serious gambling with their lives and their security. Doyle’s mystery novels have tension and underworld crime in spades, but they are also smart, politically-savvy and politically-invested. The author’s empathy is with the underdog and her writing has a particular concern for the plight of women and girls, both in and out of uniform.

As I was saying: along comes Harry, the British badass (from along line of British badasses; his mum, Rosalind Fogg, received the Victoria Cross for working as a spy during WWII and escaping capture). (Harry, unlike our president, loves people who get captured! — Bad joke  — Editor) Harry’s gruff but tender good nature and easy humor also provide levity. He and Lauren have a welcome and diverting sexual tension which span the mini-book in between The Peacekeeper’s Photograph (“Canceled Plans”) and its follow-on,  The Sapper’s Plot. Doyle is an expert at keeping a plot moving while she, for lack of a better term, leads you on a little. Harry and Lauren are desperate to meet up again, but how is it possible, with her now stationed in Honduras and he back home in London, drinking brandy with his neighbor’s cat? Oh, Harry will find a way. Just you wait and see. And his eventual, impossibly romantic reunion with Lauren is totally worth it.

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As a character, Lauren Harper is refreshingly believable: practical, smart, and good at her job, but still human enough for the occasional relationship entanglement (some of which pop up again to rankle her later). Her responsible nature comes in part from having helped raise her younger sister, Loretta, with whom she’s very close. Despite her patience and professionalism, she’s not above sputtering the occasional “fuckin’-A” or “What the freaking…” when she’s handed a particularly maddening situation. And, perhaps in a way that only a soldier with multiple remote deployments can, she appreciates a well-built latrine:

A wide wooden bench sat in the middle of the structure with four four positions, two on each side of the bench, back to back. Each position was separated from the next by a couple of feet of space and upright plywood walls, giving each seat at least the illusion of privacy in the make-shift toilet. You wouldn’t be able to look your neighbor in the eye, but you’d know they were there.

Porcelain seat covers and short wooden poles stacked with plenty of toilet paper made the latrine one of the nicest I’d ever seen in a jungle…First Sergeant Dodd had a latrine to be proud of and that was no small thing in my book.

Doyle, an Army veteran and Reservist, must have smiled to herself writing these lines, poking a bit of fun at the personality quirks that inevitably develop from decades-long military service.

Such description also puts the reader right into a scene. I had never read a book set on a military installation in Bosnia or Honduras before; Doyle has both lived some of this experience and done her research, and the result is engaging writing with a character you can root for, in a place you may never have imagined.


Doyle, M.L. The Peacekeeper’s Photograph, (Vine Hill Road Press, 2013).

—–,  The Sapper’s Plot, (Vine Hill Road Press, 2013).



MaryM.L. Doyle has served the U.S. Army both in uniform and as a civilian at home and abroad for more than 20 years. A native Minnesotan, she currntly lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She is the co-author of two memoirs, including I’m Still Standing: From Captive Soldier to free citizen—my journey home (2010, Touchstone) which chronicles the story of Shoshana Johnson, a member of the 507th Maintenance Company who was captured during an ambush and held prisoner in the early days of the Iraq War. The book was nominated for a 2011 NAACP Image Award in the literary category for best Autobiography/biography.

Her other co-authored memoir tells the life story of Brigadier General (retired) Julia Cleckley, the first African-American female general of the line in the U.S. Army National Guard .  A Promise Fulfilled, My life as a Wife and Mother, Soldier and General Officer, chronicles Cleckley’s journey, from joining the Women’s Army Corps, to becoming a military general. Doyle’s web site describes: “The story details her journey to success while facing the most devastating losses a woman can endure, the loss of a husband and of a child.”

A Promise Fulfilled was published in January, 2014 and is available at all online retailers.

In addition to the Sergeant Harper mystery series, Doyle’s other fiction includes an erotica series, Limited Partnerships, and a fantasy called The Bonding Spell, which, intriguingly, is about a woman who has an ancient Sumerian goddess living in her mind.

 You can learn more about M.L. Doyle on Facebook.com/mldoyleauthor, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and read excerpts of all of her work on her humorous and entertaining web site: www.mldoyleauthor.com. An interview between Doyle and Time Now’s Peter Molin can be found in 0-Dark-Thirty.