Cologne No. 10 for Men
Kirkus says: A soldier in Vietnam invents a uniquely absurd solution to the horrors of war. A relatively naïve Wilfred Carmenghetti comes to the Far East to outmaneuver the draft and save the Western world, but when he lands at the First Battalion to join an air-mobile platoon in the 13th Cavalry, the young Army lieutenant is greeted with a profane censure of communism and the offer of a $30 prostitute. Once he gets over his initial dismay, Wilfred accepts his place in this peculiar milieu by bonding with a black rabble-rouser named Joshua Henry and falling madly in love with a dilettante Vietnamese girl.
Morris, once a rifle platoon leader who tread in the same rice paddies as his fictional character, writes convincingly of battle, bloodshed and the disarming brevity of sudden, violent death. He also infuses his war story with the black humor prevalent in many modern American war stories like Catch-22 or M.A.S.H. as Wilfred struggles to outmaneuver the incompetently bureaucratic Lt. Col. Clary, his lapdog Capt. Simms and an engaging, philosophical Vietnamese spy. The book, played out in discrete segments following groups of characters on missions that usually relate more to their own motivations than the company line, also carries echoes of Tim O’Brien’s similarly toned The Things They Carried.
Eventually Wilfred, traumatized by his experiences and absorbed in a debate with himself over the nature of humanity, arrives at a fanciful conclusion that involves recycling the bodies of dead Vietcong to satisfy his superior’s appetite for grossly elevated body counts. “What we need to create is the functional equivalent of war: Everything except the killing,” he says. To wit, the illusion of war. A funny and serviceable satire about the gross rationalizations that propel war and peace.”
About Richard A Morris (Washington, DC Author)
When Richard Morris (8/16/43-11/21/17) died suddenly, he had begun his fifth “social justice” novel during the span of a ten-year retirement from his career in the building industry. In addition to the novels, he wrote over two hundred blog posts (www.richardmorrisauthor.wordpress.com/blog) on writing and the promotion of writing, as well as the social justice issues which propelled his stories. At the time of his death, Morris had just completed blog posts related to the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick series on The Vietnam War in which he reviewed each episode, described how his own life fit into the narrative, and commented upon how he and the country had both been on “The Wrong Side of History.” This brought his writing full circle from when he commenced it with a funny but heartrending Cologne No. 10 for Men, which satirized the use of the body count as a means of determining whether your side is winning a war.
In hindsight it may be noted that ten times in his blog posts, Morris wrote about Agent Orange as one of the many lingering tragedies of the Vietnam war. But he never linked to his own narratives that Agent Orange was the presumptive cause of the cancer which had caused his retirement. This was also the cancer that led to an emergency surgery that ended with complications and his death. As part of his writings about war, Morris also produced a CD, Skytroopers: Songs of war, peace, and love from Vietnam (www.cdbaby.com/cd/RichardMorris) of nineteen songs he wrote while serving as a rifle platoon leader with the First Cavalry (Airmobile) Division in Vietnam.
Well Considered and Canoedling in Cleveland were novels Richard Morris wrote which had themes of racial and environmental justice woven into historical thriller and adventure plots. Masjid Morning incorporated Morris’s many years of construction, codes, and zoning experience into an interfaith romance which explores the emotional struggles between religions. Morris’s novels may be found at online bookstores.