Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Review: 'A Vietnam Veteran's Journey' by Terrence Crimmins

Maryland author Terrence Crimmins has a fascinating list of books to his credit – his novel HOSTAGES, WHO WAS JOSEPH PULITZER? and his short story/essay collections GIVING UP, and I JUST ENDED UP THERE (I GUESS). To this group of publications he adds A VIETNAM VETERAN’S JOURNEY. Originally from Pennsylvania, he gained his education at Boston College, receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees. He teaches history in Baltimore, Maryland. Terrence has done newspaper work, online columns, published in a scholarly journal and optioned a screenplay for a biographical picture. He writes about the comedy and the drama of the American experience. He also is an astute historian.

In just eight pages Terrence manages to distill those fragments of moments that those of us who faced a tour in Vietnam experiences. No one like to talk about it much – not only because of serving in one of the most unpopular wars in American history, but also because of the private pain of witnessing the horrors of war the loss of friends and the indelible mark of anxiety at the sound of explosions, whether a flat tire back home or fireworks, etc.

What Terrence has managed to share is that moment between father and son when the induction is announced (for Terrence, March 14, 1966 in Massachusetts) or that departure from Vietnam after the tour is completed (for Terrence, April 12, 1968) recalling the mysteries and terrors and seeds of anguish that later would be given a name – PTSD – and the aftermath of living with the injured memories and fears of fellow GI friends’ new lives – as in Massachusetts March 14, 1970 for Terrence.

Fellow veterans will relate to all that he writes because he writes the truth, even though it is in only a few pages: that is about all a post-combat brain can process at a time. This is not a novel – this is a string of memories, guarded but shared in the manner that Terrence Crimmins has mastered. Grady Harp, April 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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