A debut satirical novel follows one man’s adventures as a dentist in the U.S. Navy.
The year is 1988 and Dr. Nick McGill is a lieutenant in the Navy. McGill is a member of the Dental Corps stationed in Williamsville, Florida, and dealing with foul breath and unpleasant characters is simply part of the job. No one likes going to the dentist and McGill comes to expect his patients to utter the phrase “I hate dentists,” whether they are demanding retirees or drunk Marines. A bright spot in such a tough occupation comes in the form of Dental Technician Second Class Sayers. DT2 Sayers, as McGill refers to her, is his sexy and playful assistant. With her “world class butt,” she would seem like the perfect candidate for a fling, the only problem being that McGill is an officer and Sayers an enlisted sailor. Any physical relationship between the two would be an offense worthy of a court-martial. There is also the thorny issue of Sayers having been kicked out of her previous stationing in Japan. What could she have done to merit expulsion from a country? While part two of the story sees McGill heading to Japan with all sorts of culture shock fumbling (including a difficult time eating octopus), the main drive of the narrative occurs in part one. Will Sayers and McGill ever get together and, if so, at what cost? Full of slapstick moments and bodily fluids (blood, vomit, and stool provide not only humor, but also help move the story along), the book makes for a nuanced, if crude, look at a small corner of the U.S. military. Woodard’s examination moves steadily, though it loses some steam. With the issue of Sayers resolved in part one, part two can prove to be less thrilling. Sure, Japan is a strange and exotic place for an American, but without a pressing issue, McGill’s discoveries, such as the fact that Japanese grape soda contains actual grapes (“There were grapes in the goddamn soda,” he observes), do not have as much urgency as his time stewing in sexual limbo in Florida.
An in-depth look at an officer’s bawdy tour of duty.