Close to home

It’s sometimes said that a person’s gifts and talents are rarely appreciated by those close to them. So I feel really honored that both my first novel, Cologne No. 10 for Men, and my most recent, Masjid Morning, soon will be featured in events close to home.

On this Friday, March 17th at 7:00 p.m. at Robert Harper Books in Riverdale Park Town Center (6216 Rhode Island Avenue, Riverdale Park, MD 20737  by the railroad station). I will discuss “Fact or Fiction in Vietnam” and my satiric novel Cologne No. 10 for Men.

Author Tom Glenn will follow me and talk about his new novel, Last of the Annamese, “about the Vietnamese and Americans who escaped from Vietnam in April 1975, those who decided to stay, and those who chose death rather than life under the Communists.”

Writer’s Digest calls Cologne No. 10 For Men “a superb novel of the Vietnam war, a novel that compares favorably with those earlier ‘dark humor’ war novels such as CATCH-22 and M.A.S.H. The writing crackles with authenticity,”  Cologne No. 10 For Men Coverand David Willson, Books in Review II, The Vietnam Veterans of America Veteran, said “There aren’t very many funny Vietnam War infantry books. This is one of them. Read it and be amazed.” Kirkus Reviews called it “A funny and serviceable satire about the gross rationalizations that propel war and peace.” “. . . like Catch-22 or M.A.S.H.” Cologne No. 10 For Men has been selected for inclusion in the Naval Academy Library in Annapolis, MD.

On Thursday, April 13, the Bridging Cultural Gaps book club will meet from 7:30-9:00 p.m. and discuss Masjid Morning in the Hyattsville Municipal Building (4310 Gallatin Street). Bridging Cultural Gaps was founded to build community by exploring cultural differences through literature and open conversation. All are welcome.

Kirkus Reviews called Masjid Morning “A thought-provoking and ultimately moving story that looks at love, human nature, and conservative religion,” and Edd Doerr, President of Americans for Religious Liberty said, “With Islamophobia on the rise in the US, publication of this interesting novel is quite timely. Its two intertwining plot lines converge in a stunning denouement that I won’t reveal.” Author Kathy Cunningham described it as “A powerful novel about hate and intolerance–religious and racial. But even more than that, it’s a Romeo and Juliet romance about two young people caught up in their parents’ feud.”

Richard Morris

Back in July when our city’s Municipal Building was the venue for a meeting with the theme, “What can we do to create racial justice (in our community)?” One of the questions asked that day and repeated many times leading up to Thanksgiving and the winter holidays regarded how one can respond when extended family members or acquaintances make racist (or Islamophobic or other) remarks.

Hyattsville Municipal Building

Masjid Morning originated with an email containing derogatory anti-Muslim comments sent to me by an acquaintance . Why would I have been assumed to be responsive to receiving such email … what stereotype did I fit? I decided to respond point-by-point and my return email soon became a series of seven blog-posts, beginning with “(Part 1) Funny, you don’t look like a . . .”  and continuing through number 7 in the series.

Then it developed into a novel. Our city’s meetings to learn about Islam occurred during the writing of the story and served as a good source of information, as well as some classes I took and people I met. Other blog-posts, such as “Life Imitates Fiction . . . Again”  and “Corrections already needed to my 11/10/16 novel” reflected subsequent events over the past few months. So, Hyattsville and its people are part of how Masjid Morning came to be, and I am happy to be able to share it in this manner. Thanks for the opportunity.

Interspersed between these two very local events will be one a short distance away, The College Park Library Bookfest. Other events close to home include the International Day of the Book in Kensington, the Riverdale Park Arts Festival, the Green Man Festival in Greenbelt, and Bowiefest in Bowie. (See “Appearances” above for dates and times.) Then on to New Orleans in June.

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