Two American servicemen arrive at a unique solution to help unite North and South Korea in Mack’s (Not Yet? Another Mission, 2011) sophomore book.
Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, communist North Korea and democratic South Korea have stared at each other with weapons ready across a two-mile stretch of no man’s land known as the Demilitarized Zone. In this book, Mack mixes fiction, fact, opinion and his own personal experiences as he lays out a scheme to bring the two countries together. Two American Army officers, Jeremy and Casey, are assigned the seemingly impossible mission of pushing the intractable foes toward reunification. The servicemen know that it will require them to think outside the box, and so they devise a plan that relies on women, music and sports as catalysts. Mack, a retired U.S. Army colonel, spent extensive time serving throughout Asia, and his experience shows in his encyclopedic knowledge of Korea, its people, its history, its customs and even its food. However, the novel itself doesn’t start until more than halfway into the book; the first 78 pages are filled with Mack’s comments and opinions on a variety of subjects, including global warming, crime, China, al-Qaida and mandatory military service. Even after the fictional portion of the book begins, the author continues to offer observations on various topics; he sometimes suspends the story for pages at a time to do so, in the same rapid-fire paragraph style he uses in the book’s first section. The effect, however, is confusing, as the interruptions make it difficult to follow the storyline. Overall, this isn’t a novel in the traditional sense—there’s minimal dialogue, no character arcs and little narrative flow—but an uneven personal recollection colored by opinion and fictional elements.
A disorienting but sometimes-interesting hybrid of fiction and nonfiction.