William Karl Thomas was Lenny Bruce' only writing collaborator, co-authoring three screenplays and the comedy material in the first three comedy albums in a ten year collaboration lasting until Bruce’s death, as told in Thomas' memoir, "Lenny Bruce: The Making of a Prophet." His checkered background includes being a cocktail pianist in New Orleans French Quarter, serving a year of combat in the Air Force during the Korean War, being a photographer, a journalist, a feature/documentary cinematographer, a screen writer, an industrial film producer, a public relations executive, and the author of ten books currently in print (4 non-fiction, 6 fiction). He has lived or worked in England, France, Japan, Korea, Jamaica, Mexico, Canada, and various parts of the United States.
Born 1/25/33 in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, a small Gulf Coast town in which Tennessee Williams lived and wrote about in his works, in 1951 Thomas married his former high school teacher and was divorced after a four year childless marriage. He has lived through the most turbulent events of the twentieth century in the pro-active roles of a journalist, filmmaker, and book author. He worked for and collaborated with many of the pioneers in these shooting wars and social battles. As a result, his body of work is an intimate survey of that history, providing the reader with an understanding of the world of their forebears, and the sometimes bitter lessons learned about conflicts that appear to be repeated in the 21st century.
His work is well researched and, in addition to having lived through most of the events described, his early years as a journalist have made him committed to accuracy and detailed references. As for drawing the historical figures in his works, he actually collaborated with Lenny Bruce for ten years, he actually worked for Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack, he actually spent afternoons conversing with James Baldwin, Angela Davis’ lawyer (Leo Branton) was also his lawyer. He actually photographed, conversed with, and ate dinners with three American Presidents while they were in office. He's seen all of them with spinach in their teeth, socks that don’t match, and momentarily at a loss for words, but he has also seen all of them hold audiences spellbound with the brilliance of their talent and the indisputable logic of their words. He may use Wikipedia to double check dates and locations, but personal experience has helped him paint the indelible memories of the people he's known and the life he's lived.
“He aptly conveys the heights and depths of human capability. An emotionally challenging but rewarding war novel.”
– Kirkus Reviews
A fictional memoir, based on true events of love and horror during the Korean War.
Drawing upon his own experience as a soldier stationed in Korea in 1953, Thomas (The Genteel Poor, 2014, etc.) paints a ghastly picture of the ravages of war. The story begins with Sook Cha, a 12-year-old girl, witnessing the murder of her father and rape of her best friend at the hands of ruthless North Korean soldiers. Now alone in the world, she heads south in search of the means to survive. The world she inhabits is a perilous one, and even her fellow countrymen prove opportunistic and brutal. The threat of rape is omnipresent; she attempts to disguise herself as a boy, hoping it will deter potential attackers. She joins forces with an older woman traveling with a young girl and her child, and the four form a kind of impromptu family, eventually establishing a brothel in a notoriously tough neighborhood. Meanwhile, in a parallel narrative, Max, an American soldier stationed in Korea, wrestles with his own disillusionment and estrangement from his wife. He finds himself in a brothel and is introduced to a young, beautiful prostitute—Sook Cha. Immediately attracted to each other, the two take solace from the darkness that surrounds them. They fall deeply in love, but everything seems to conspire against their union. Even Max’s vindictive lieutenant attempts to draw them apart. Max desperately tries to make it work, investigating all of the ways he could manage to take Sook Cha with him back to the United States. While this is an achingly sorrowful tale filled with gritty depictions of human degradation and fear, it doesn’t gratuitously batter the reader with hopelessness. In fact, through all the austerity, glimmers of real love shine through. The author’s experience in Korea shines through as well, particularly in his historically astute depiction of the country and era. He aptly conveys the heights and depths of human capability.
An emotionally challenging but rewarding war novel.
Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013
Page count: 246pp
Publisher: Media Maestro Book Division
Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2015
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