Sol­dier Boy

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - Harold Wal­ters

I couldn’t help it. The first time I heard the ti­tle of Glenn Carter’s third novel, “Sol­dier Boy” (Flanker Press) the Shirelles be­gan singing their 1962 hit in my nog­gin — “Sol­dier boy, oh my lit­tle sol­dier boy, I’ll be true to you.”

Then, sure enough, on page 25 Sarah and Kal­lum share the old tune after a time of in­ti­macy be­fore Kal­lum ships out to the Gulf War.

“It’s our song now. boy,” says Sarah.

So, there’s the book’s ti­tle, and it works — “Sol­dier Boy,” a novel of rein­car­na­tion, redemp­tion, and re­venge.

B’ys, I hope the au­thor will for­give me for this anec­dote I scrib­ble about his hope for the cover’s il­lus­tra­tion.

Firstly, the cover’s de­sign and art work are top notch, im­pres­sively done. The sol­dier boy’s face floats in the sky, dark Sol­dier waves break on the rocks, and a woman dressed in a flow­ing white gown stands on the shore gaz­ing out to sea.

About the woman …

I chat­ted with the au­thor while fi­nal de­ci­sions were be­ing made about his novel’s cover. He told me he’d made only one re­quest of his pub­lisher re­gard­ing the phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance of the woman in the flow­ing gown — that she have …

For frig sake, I can’t risk re­veal­ing the au­thor’s re­quest be­cause it might vi­o­late some au­thor/pub­lisher pri­vacy that I’m too stump-stund to be aware of and might be rea­son enough for them to ban­ish me with rocks.

I will say this — Glenn b’y, I’ve sized-up the woman in the long white dress to see if the pub­lisher granted your re­quest. As far as I can tell — as far as I can imag­ine — con­sid­er­ing how the dress falls in a se­duc­tive curve along the woman’s hip, that the pub­lisher paid some at­ten­tion to your de­sires re­gard­ing her fun­da­ment.

Should I duck and dodge for fear of hurled stones?

I’ve said else­where that I’m en­vi­ous of young whip­per­snap­pers — young from my vin­tage per­spec­tive any­way — who write qual­ity yarns. None­the­less, I say with­out a smidgen of cov­etous­ness that Glenn Carter’s Sol­dier Boy de­serves a top shelf dis­play in book­stores …

… or bet­ter yet, an eye-level dis­play. Some­times, if the top shelf is taller than prospec­tive read­ers, it’s too crip­pling on the neck to study the ti­tles.

What?

What’s the book about?

It’s about a young fel­low named Sa­muel Bolt whose birth oc­curred un­der cer­tain “strange” cir­cum­stances. He was reared up in an or­phan­age and now lives among the home­less peo­ple of Las Ve­gas.

That’s right, the home­less of Las Ve­gas.

Sa­muel has in­ex­pli­ca­ble abil­i­ties that guar­an­tee him luck with Ve­gas’ gam­bling ma­chines — luck he shares with the un­for­tu­nate. Sa­muel also has per­plex­ing dreams, tor­ment­ing vi­sions and emo­tions that have haunted him all his life.

In search of some ex­pla­na­tion of his trou­ble­some vi­sions, Sa­muel trav­els to Har­bour Rock, a town just up the shore from Bos­ton if I’m not mis­taken. There he meets peo­ple who — for rea­sons he doesn’t un­der­stand — seem to rec­og­nize him.

A taxi driver drops Sa­muel off at Diana Doody’s Bed and Break­fast.

It’s no sur­prise that Diana Doody thinks Sa­muel looks like her son Kal­lum who was killed in the Gulf War.

Oh, sorry. It’s not re­ally a spoiler, but ear­lier I was so caught up with the woman in the flow­ing dress that I failed to men­tion that Kal­lum, the sol­dier boy, is killed over­seas.

Sa­muel also meets Sarah, Kal­lum’s wife at the time of his death.

Truly, Sarah of the flow­ing white dress, who is sure Sa­muel is …

… well, this is a story about rein­car­na­tion, so you read be­tween the lines.

Get this — Sarah is now mar­ried to Billy Rut­ter, Kal­lum’s erst­while friend who re­turned from the Gulf War un­harmed.

Billy Rut­ter — pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sen­a­tor Wil­liam Rut­ter — a de­spi­ca­ble piece of work.

Imag­ine the tan­gle of char­ac­ters and con­flict in Har­bour Rock. Not to worry though, Carter deftly guides his read­ers through the var­i­ous in­trigues un­til …

… well, un­til the end of the story, of course.

Some reader might ques­tion why Glenn Carter, a New­found­lan­der born and reared from an­ces­tral New­found­land stock has set his story up in The States.

The set­ting works, so I say what odds about it.

All the same, Carter con­sciously sows re­minders of his roots. For in­stance, Har­bour Rock is a fish­ing com­mu­nity not un­like one that could be found in New­found­land.

There’s one easy-to-miss seed of back home that is so sub­tle I won­der if Carter un­con­sciously dropped it on the page.

At one point, Kal­lum is asked this ques­tion: “Did you ask Miss Babb to dance?”

Kal­lum an­swers: “We had a scuff.”

Had a scuff! B’ys, do they scuff up in The Sates?

Thank you for read­ing.

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