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Finding the Poetry in Post-Vietnam PTSD (new D. S. Lliteras novel)

Finding the Poetry in Post-Vietnam PTSD (new D. S. Lliteras novel)

Posted: 2018/03/26

Garden City Park, NY: This April is the twenty-second anniversary of National Poetry Month, but it also marks the forty-third anniversary of the Vietnam War's end on April 30, 1975. As it turns out, both topics come together perfectly—and with sublime grace—in the newest novel from acclaimed novelist D. S. Lliteras.

Syllables of Rain is the next work and a sort of thematic sequel to Lliteras' previous work Viet Man—a semi-autobiographical novel also focused on Vietnam (the book recently won this year's Military Writers Society of America [MWSA] Gold Medal for Best Literary Fiction, and has been praised by Booklist as "fine war fiction from a writer who's been there"). This new novel presents various short chapters of lean yet quietly profound prose in the style of Hemingway, each of which then end with gently evocative poetic verse. This two-fold approach is based on the Japanese style of haibun  (known in Japanese characters as 俳文, or haikai writings), and it affords Lliteras the opportunity to marry together the realism of war literature alongside the dreamlike flow of Far East poetics. What results is a book about two veterans stuck between memories of Vietnam and the burden of their return to the United States; and the fact that Lliteras' writing also embodies both Western and Eastern literary forms only increases the novel's collective effect upon the reader.

To date, D. S. Lliteras' Syllables of Rain has received fine reviews from places like Publishers Weekly ("[a] touching book"); Library Journal ("a compact, emotionally charged snapshot of two soldiers trying to make sense of the world around them"); The VVA Veteran ("a brilliant work . . . poetical, and filled with hard-fought truths"); The Echo World ("approachable, bittersweet and poetic . . . [Syllables of Rain ] touches your heart"); The Virginian-Pilot ("a tripwire-taut account of two tough combat vets and their trouble attempts at re-entry into civilization . . .  an epiphany of sorts"); and the Military Writers Society of America Dispatches (MWSA) ("both subtly jarring and comforting in nature . . . Lliteras skillfully takes us on a poignant journey with a gratifying conclusion in this unconventional novel") among others.

Syllables of Rain ($16.95 USD, Rainbow Ridge - Square One, dist.) is now available at Amazon and wherever books are sold.