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Carolyn Howard-Johnson reviews In the Shadow of Suribachi by Joyce Faulkner


In the Shadow of Suribachi

by Joyce Faulkner

Red Engine Press, Key West, FL


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Emerging Author Joyce Faulkner

Designs New Kind of Literature



If reviewing were a different sort of animal I could probably pen three lines of 17 syllables, wind up with haiku that would remain with the reader and call it day. I could describe In the Shadow of Suribachi by Joyce Faulkner with words like "heartfelt, consummate skill, emotional and bloody," fool a bit with the caesuras and stresses and perhaps give readers a sense of the soul of the book.


Having said that, there is more to this work than its essence and prose will work better to explain that. Here the author assembles disparate events like the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane in Islmorada, Fl, the infamous kristallnacht, the 1942 circus fire in Cleveland. Each real-life event is told from the point of view of a character and may at first feel as if they are separate stories. If the reader listens carefully, however, she will hear the intimations in each of how these young men's futures will connect, how what has gone before will affect them later as Marines fighting and suffering in Iwo Jima in 1945.


This book is neither beast nor fowl. The stories (and story) are based on interviews and careful research so it is nonfiction. They are told with all the craft of a fiction writer; that makes it creative nonfiction. They are assembled in a way that would qualify it as a literary novel. A literary novel, after all, tells of the human condition. Characters in literary novels must be carefully drawn and readers should draw something from one that lives long after the last page is turned. This book, published by a new traditional press called the Red Engine Press, qualifies.


Readers should know that, though they may well be mesmerized by this story (stories), it is not easy reading. Endorsed by professionals from the Army's 101st Airborne Division to history teachers, it captures what Lt. Col. Dave Grossman calls "the reality of human aggression and combat." This is a time when we, as a nation, need to fully understand what we are sending our young men and women to do. To understand it may behoove us to visit - or revisit -Suribachi.





(Carolyn Howard-Johnson's first novel, This is the Place, has won eight awards. Her newly released Harkening, a collection of stories, has won three. Her practical and detailed how-to book on promotion, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOU'RE PUBLISHER WON'T, is available as an  e-book at and as a paperback at  online bookstores.

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