Like his debut novel – Augie’s War- John H Brown delivers a masterfully written story with palpable tension, offbeat characters and hilarious incidents. The novel also highlights the Italian-American experience where good food and candid conversation is a family feast served up daily.
Augie’s World is an engrossing tale of one man’s struggle to deal with the invisible scars of war while trying to help his family overcome a deadly threat. The book also underscores the significance of family and the life-long attachments that bind us together through our ancestral relationships.
When Augie Cumpton returns home from Vietnam in 1970, he is physically unscathed, but emotionally and psychologically damaged. Augie is suffering from PTSD, but that disease would not be recognized as a medical condition for another decade. As a result, Augie begins self-medicating with alcohol and drugs to obliterate his wartime memories and nightmares.
Then to compound his situation, an incident involving Augie, his family and The Mob presents a new and perilous problem. Augie has incited the vindictive wrath of the Black Hand in Pittsburgh, and now both he and his family become targets. And while Augie has the support of his large Italian-American family, a new girlfriend and an odd assortment of characters -like Bow Wow Bardolino, Easy Ed Perez and Spud Duncan- to help him, he and his relatives are in mortal danger. How will he deal the likes of Frankie Three Fingers Bonamico and the other made men of The Mob? At the same time, can Augie find a way to exorcise his PTSD demons? And through all of these complications, will he be able keep the promising and healing relationship with his new girlfriend Lou?
Augie’s War explores the healing power of family to recharge the human spirit when wartime experiences threaten to darken the very soul of the protagonist. In the story, Augie Cumpton leans on, and flashes back to, childhood memories of his large and boisterous Italian-American family, the bakery where he worked and the humorous, sometimes outrageous, but always memorable characters of his youth.
Like “Tapper Two” – Frankie Secondo- a tap dancing teacher who would whistle between words and sentences all the while executing perfect pirouettes and splits when he came to the bakery each day to buy a loaf of bread. Or Johnny Trupo, a neighborhood kid who invented a weird game using the corpse of a flattened feline. These memories of home (and many more) provide Augie with a temporary respite from the awful realities of war -a war compounded by the incompetence and sometimes outlandish schemes devised by his superiors.
There are also a slew of offbeat fellow soldiers who share Augie’s Vietnam experiences. Tobias Chang (who refers to himself as CLTC or Chief Lackey Tobias Chang) is the self-deprecating voice of reason in the unit. “Rooster” Washington, an inner-city infantryman who has seen it all, shows Augie ways of surviving both the war and the ignorance of the military commanders. Rotor Charlie is a north Georgia helicopter pilot who swears he spotted a pink armored personnel carrier in the middle of a battlefield.
And then there is Staff Sergeant Roy Shaver who runs the off-duty NCO Club. Shaver would gladly kill any soldier who complained about the sergeant’s right to cheat him by short-pouring his drinks, rigging the slot machines and overcharging him for the skinny Vietnamese prostitutes he pimped.
As Augie’s Vietnam deployment draws to a close and enemy attacks are a daily occurrence, he must find a way to not only survive the war, but also make life and death decisions forced on him by a coterie of deranged and corrupt superiors. If he refuses to comply with their illegal demands, he may end up like another soldier in his unit who is murdered.
John Brown will be having book events over the coming months and would be honored to sign your copy of Augie’s War.
If you are interested in reading Augie’s War, you can order a copy at http://www.blackrosewriting.com/literary/augieswar and at these other book sellers: