Hall takes us from Texas to Vietnam and back again, treating us over and over to exquisite evocations of place. We get lost in the East Texas Big Thicket, with its mosquitoes, sloughs, feral hogs, armadillos, and carnivorous plants, and wind up enjoying the pollution-enhanced beauty of a sunset. In Vietnam we sit with Hall on his berm, watch napalm explosions, and drink Chianti on Christmas. We meet local people with whom, as an interpreter, Hall can converse in Vietnamese. Stateside, we go on road trips in Mustang and Volkswagen convertibles and end up at a hilarious high school reunion, on a golf course where all the holes and water elements are named after people who have hurt Hall's family.
Written in a clear, direct prose with a dry wit and a refreshing absence of hype, these essays touch on racism, injustice, class snobbery and pure stupidity. Hall's occasional swipes of malice are reserved for the rich, the powerful and the cruel; the pervasive impression is one of quiet kinship with other struggling humans. As he says of his childhood, "those times come back and, lordy, yes, they were hard, but they were good in so many ways."
Jeanne Emmons, poet and editor of "Briar Cliff Review"
Whether the reader is struck by the irony of Hall's Vietnam service or soothed with the author's ability to find refuge in a thorny, Texas thicket, these essays reach deeply into the cultural zeitgeist and should be required reading for anyone interested in knowing oneself.
H. Palmer Hall not only describes his interior struggles and growth, but he offers intelligent signposts and guiding insights for his boomer generation and its children.
Will Hochman, poet and poetry editor of "WLA: War, Literature and the Arts"
Whether recounting his early adolescent days and recent revisiting in the Big Thicket or his military service in the deep recesses of Vietnam and subsequent thoughts on war, sharing personal experiences as a husband and father, or presenting his astute observations on Southern history and popular culture as a poet-teacher, all material is well maintained by this librarian who also happens to be a persuasive author with an innate knack for narrative. These writings offer a familiar and friendly voice that always appears authentic and reliable in its storytelling, providing enjoyable and enriching reading.
Edward Byrne, poet and editor of "Valparaiso Poetry Review"