Review: Hawser by J. Hardy Carroll

HawserHawser by J. Hardy Carroll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This historical fiction novel is highly recommended. War novels are not my usual go-to, though I do enjoy an Erik Larson historical fiction now and then. Hawser brought WWII and the Air Force’s role in the American European campaign to life, as the protagonist arrives in Britain with the 1st wave of Americans and B-17s. Hawser, an Iowa-born, Arizona-raised bombardier, gives an inside perspective into the mindset of the war-wracked soldier and into the workings of the evolving planes of the war.

The story opens on the starving shell of Lt. Hawes amid the grinding routine of an Air Force officer’s POW camp hoping to make it another day, another hour. Then, the story flashes back to his arrival into the new world of war and the various men and women he’d met along the way.

Stress is high, camaraderie is true and romance is a warped thing doomed before it begins.

It was an odd unhinged emptiness. I felt like a kite with a cut string, the wind still blowing hard but in no particular direction, no thread of resistance to guide me. I wouldn’t have been surprised to float off my cot and into the tent ceiling, continue higher still with canvas shroud until I was as far above the camp as I had been over Hamburg or Schweinfurt.

Nobody’s approach to the war and their role in it is the same. Hawser and the richly developed secondary characters feel very real, with superb use of regional accents and military jargon enjoyably appropriate.

I received my copy of the book when the author contacted me directly through The Book Review Directory, a blog.
 
 
 
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Review: “The Doom that Came to Devil’s Reef” by Don Webb

2 of 5 stars.

This manipulative short story masquerades as Lovecraft biography providing 3 possible readings. It purports to be biographical, claiming that Lovecraft procured the mad ramblings of an woman institutionalized where his parents were and wrongly thought to be his distant cousin. Said ramblings are strikingly similar to the alien-ocean-god tale of Cthulhu and Innsmouth. Lovecraft wrote the name of his story’s town and god-figures over the original text in the woman’s notebook.

The humans worship themselves through a demon called Darwin. If their line of faith were right I would be greater than my grandmother, my grandmother would be greater than hers, and she would be greater than . . .

-OR- One could imply that the notebook is a fake created by Lovecraft to add intrigue to his Cthulhu story and there is no faux cousin. The false family connection and the madhouse add nice writerly details.

No race can kill a planet they say. I warn them, there is no race as vile as humans.

-OR- There is no faux cousin nor notebook and the entire bio is a fictional short story by Webb to add mystery and longevity to the Lovecraft / Cthulhu world. This would put it on par with Shakespeare in Love and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer.

Aside from a few nice random quotes, this piece does not add much to the original Lovecraft with any of the 3 readings.

“The Doom that Came to Devil’s Reef” appears in New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird edited by Paula Guran after originally appearing in Through Dark Angles (Hippocampus, 2014).
 
 
 
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