The other side of the trip

The last post tells many of the memorable things we did on our recent trip back to Rocky River and Cleveland, Ohio.  It leaves out a lot of other things, including the quiet moments of a long driving trip when my wife reads to me and we have conversations that don’t fit into normal days, conversations about things like … genre?  Long ago we had the discussion that Well Considered was not historical fiction even though it has a lot of history in it.  It takes place in the present as well as the past.  My wife, partly teasing me about my age, suggested that Cologne No. 10 for Men, taking place in the 1960s, could be classified as historical fiction.  This led to googling about how many years back does a story have to go in order to be “historical” with differing results.  In the course of reading opinions about what constitutes “historical fiction” we stumbled across “alternate history” in which events deviate significantly from established history.  We realized that Cologne No. 10 for Men might fit into this category.  Depending upon whose definition, Cologne may not fit all the requirements, particularly in that it doesn’t speculate about what would have been the results of the historical event deviation.  However, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds has also been called alternate history, and it also only changed a historical event without detailing what the consequences would have been.  In the beginning many people, including ourselves, called Cologne No. 10 for Men “a Vietnam war novel.”  We soon realized that we needed to refer to it as a satire about war — the setting is Vietnam but the story is about all wars — illusions and delusions.  There was a time during the editing process when I chopped Cologne No. 10 for Men in half (see the page on this website called “Cuts from Cologne” for a sampling of what I left out.)  I almost deleted approximately the last third of the book until I decided that the ending was what made this novel different from most of the war fiction that exists today.  So now, for those of you who decided immediately that you did not like war novels or were not interested in the Vietnam War in particular, I offer you Cologne No. 10 for Men, an alternate history.  As an author, I have great difficulty classifying my novels by genre, so I was glad when Kirkus referred to Well Considered as “a thriller.”
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