Coming in 2019!
QL 4 was the 2019 Independent Book Awards winner for literary fiction and military fiction. https://www.independent-bookawards.com/links/2151-winners-2019/resources/8161-ql4
QL 4 was a finalist for the 2018 Montaigne Medal. http://www.hofferaward.com/Montaigne-Medal-finalists.html#.WtuPbX9G2po
QL 4 was a FINALIST in the category Military (Fiction) in the 2019 TopShelf Book Awards!
Reviews of QL 4
Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers’ Favorite
“James Garrison was in Vietnam. I don’t know when. I don’t know where. I don’t know anything else about him, but I know he was there. There is an authenticity and literary realism that his novel QL4 has that cannot be manufactured or copied. You have to have lived it. You must have lived it and you must know how to write. That is what makes the very best novels about our failed experiment in Vietnam. That is what makes QL4 a great novel. You cannot manufacture the social system that the U.S. Army creates in Vietnam and everywhere else it goes. You can only live it and then try to recreate it on paper so that others will have an idea of what it was like. That America, that Army jargon, that forced togetherness and camaraderie between men who would never even come together back in the real world is something I have never seen in any other organization or situation.
The most impressive thing about QL4 by James Garrison is that it took me back to my own Army experience. So many of the soldiers in QL4 reminded me vividly of men I served with. What made that feeling even stronger was the situations that only war and the Army can create repeatedly. Situations involving death, corruption, theft, and betrayal of self, buddy, and country. The plot of QL4 is good, very good. But the characters are outstanding, as my old First Sergeant would say. As for the setting, it is Vietnam during the war, and I’ve already told you that James Garrison was there. If you want to have an idea of what all the fuss was about, read QL4.”
The US Review of Books
by James Garrison
Private First Class Justin Bell is drafted into the Vietnam War while pursuing his graduate degree and is assigned to Military Police patrol where he observes a corruption far beyond the combat he was anticipating. Distraught by the crime and injustice he repeatedly witnesses, he quickly becomes disillusioned by the military and the war effort. Ill at ease in his surroundings and assignments, he doesn’t know whom to trust and begins to question everyone’s motives as any form of stability he previously sensed crumbles. He uncovers a trail of deception that links to a highly profitable black market, and crossing paths with those involved can prove deadly. As the disturbances mount, his morality can no longer allow him to remain silent. Bell struggles to find a resolution to his discontent as he evaluates his own responsibility in the occurring exploits.
The magnitude of how one choice impacts all proceeding outcomes is the essential premise of this wartime novel. Each character in the story faces a distinctive situation in which the decision-making process is amplified by the ability to survive under chaotic and life-threatening circumstances. The author depicts the Vietnam landscape and cultural environment in expert detail, creating an ominous backdrop that serves as an overture to the arduous missions of the American servicemen and personnel. QL 4, the highway that runs from Saigon into the Mekong Delta, plays an integral role in the novel, exposing a harsh imbalance between the violence and the undeveloped terrain. Readers of historical fiction, military, and crime novels will be intrigued by the author’s organized plot that continually forms heightened suspense as the characters reveal their intent, configuring an unpredictable climax and a haunting conclusion to the Vietnam experience.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
There, on an old worn seat, clean and cold,
I left it behind on the Staten Island Ferry—
after a walk on Wall Street,
a Saturday with darkness falling at four o’clock,
a wind chill of zero degrees,
a polar contrast to the heat, mosquitoes, and fear
I had known only days before.
The cold, cold wind I remember,
but I can’t remember
what she said,
staring past me
at dusk settling over the water
or perhaps at her reflection in the window.
She wore a bright red coat with gray fur at her neck
and at her throat;
I wore padded gabardine,
smooth and faded with age and use.
Did she wear a scarf, a hat? Did I?
It ended there, on the ferry sliding
through the black water of the harbor.
I can’t remember what she said.
But what she said was true,
truer than most words between lovers;
honest, confessional, expiatory,
perhaps even pleading.
What she wanted, I do not know—
to clear something away like the banked snow,
icy and dirty on Broadway.
To this city I was a stranger, an explorer,
on the Staten Island Ferry,
going nowhere and back.
Whatever it was she said,
I looked out the window
at the dusk turning night over the black water,
the lights, the statue and the lights not sparkling
but dully glowing in the dusk.
I can’t remember what she said.
The ferry entered the slip,
and we exited through the gate
(the only passengers coming back to the city,
maybe a worker or two,
the only fools wandering
through ice-cold canyons at Saturday dusk
because I wanted to ride the Staten Island Ferry,
no other goal than to ride the ferry,
a frigid hour before sunset,
under a sunless milk sky
that turned to soot
then faded to black)
and I ate the apple that she gave me.
Who knew the City could be so empty,
Sitting there on the ancient wooden benches,
new, newer now,
not seeing the statue or the skyline as she spoke,
only hearing her tell me
and feeling the frisson of despair
that wouldn’t go away.
Only gray skies and no sunset to watch,
and the black night when we walked the icy streets
to the subway,
Battery Park or somewhere near.
I was a stranger, I didn’t know my way;
and what she said changed everything,
the wages of blunt honesty,
two strangers on the Staten Island Ferry
going their separate ways.
Why Did Hemingway Kill Himself?
We’re all going skiing today.
We adults are apprehensive, not sure how our old bodies will react.
I stand on the porch with my coffee and gaze out:
the lake is a shimmery blue;
the mountains, almost black, divide the lake from the blue sky.
The wet bark and boughs of the pines near the cabin
frame lake, mountains, and sky—
on the mountains white patches of snow.
Why did Hemingway kill himself when he wasn’t dying?
What did he wake and see in the mirror one morning?
What was he afraid of?
Was it death?
He feared death so much that he ran into her arms to escape the fear?
Was it the weakening of his body?
A debilitating, wasting disease?
Disgust at what he had become?
He lived in a cabin, in a wild and pristine place.
Was it not enough to look out across the forest in the morning,
hear the birds, see the mountains against the sky?
To squeeze out of life one last breath of cold air,
to bring in the light refracted through the trees,
the red and yellow flowers in the meadow,
the blue sky,
and process it all through rods and cones,
sparking billions of stars in his sentient self?
Different from the trees that stand silent, mute, mindless, unseeing.
Why did Hemingway kill himself
when perhaps he could write one more paragraph,
one more sentence
that described simply and directly
the world, life,
even if no one would publish it or ever read it?
“Lost:On the Staten Island Ferry” has been nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize.
Sheila-Na-Gig online 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominations Sheila-Na-Gig online is honored to announce our 2017 Pushcart Prize nominations: Janelle Cordero: “Shining” (forthcoming in Volume 2.2, Winter 2017) Lachlan Brooks: “God Moves In” (forthcoming in Volume 2.2, Winter 2017) Gary Glauber: “Senescence” https://sheilanagigblog.com/volume-2-1-fall-2017-the-poets/gary-glauber/ Sandy Coomer: “Stillborn” https://sheilanagigblog.com/volume-1-2016-17/volume-1-4-summer-2017-the-poets/sandy-coomer/ James Garrison: “Lost on the Staten Island Ferry” https://sheilanagigblog.com/volume-1-2016-17/volume-1-4-summer-2017-the-poets/james-garrison/ Roger Hect: “Shoe Town, 1980” https://sheilanagigblog.com/volume-1-2016-17/sheila-na-gig-online-1-3-spring-2017/roger-hecht/ Best of luck, nominees! Hayley & Jessica
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