Review by Phil Jason
“D.A.S.P.O.,” by Ronald B. Fenster and Jerold A. Greenfield. Creative Products International. 360 pages. Trade paperback $14.95.
“I Know What My Cat Is Thinking,” by Dorothy Seymour Mills. Barrington Publishing. 24 pages. $12.95.
“Steve Canton’s Tributes, Memories & Observations of the Sweet Science.” SJC Boxing. 370 pages. Trade paperback $29.00.
Here are three new titles by Southwest Florida writers. One, two, or all three of them are books that may appeal to your reading pleasure or your gift-giving needs.
The first – “D.A.S.P.O.” – carries the subtitle “An Unhinged Novel of Vietnam.” While there have been plenty of those, I haven’t come across any new ones for quite a while. The initials in the title stand for Department of the Army Special Photographic Office. The primary mission of this office’s Pacific Detachment was to document U. S. Army activities in South Vietnam.
Though there is some continuity to the story, it’s more of what’s called an “episodic novel” in which scenes and chapters are relatively self-contained. The unity comes from tone, theme, and setting. These guys live high on the hog, find ways of getting in trouble, and manage to benefit from the thriving drug trade. They are noncombatants who are constantly in combat zones, allowed to operate outside the local chain of command. Anyone who likes the whacky side of war fiction – novels like M.A.S.H. and “Catch-22” – will enjoy this hilarious send-up, which is based on Ron Fenster’s experiences.
Pet lovers often have strong relationships, even psychic connections, with their beloved animals. Dorothy Mills, whose book should not be mistaken for a kind of children’s book it physically resembles, has fun with the idea of a cat owner reading her pet’s mind. Thus, it’s the perfect book for cat lovers. It contains a series of cute cat photographs captioned by the cat’s usually disdainful thoughts. Ms. Mills knows that cats have a sense of independence and superiority that they manifest in their facial expressions and body language. She just translates that communication into words.
However, since this cat is owned by an aspiring writer, the book is simultaneously about writers’ insecurities as the cat’s thoughts somewhat cruelly undermine the owner/writer’s confidence. Essentially, the cat is an unsympathetic critic. Short and funny, the book reprises Dorothy’s relationship with feline Toto when the prolific and accomplished author was between husbands and far from established in her writing career.
Steve Canton’s book is a fascinating compendium of boxing lore that grows out of Mr. Canton’s insider experience as cut man, trainer, broadcaster, journalist, and owner of the SJC Boxing Gym in Fort Myers. It’s a treasure trove of information for the boxing aficionado and a delight for anyone who enjoys colorful sports anecdotes. Individual boxers, both well-known and less-known, are profiled. Just as often, a turning point match gets enshrined in Mr. Cantor’s sturdy, vivid prose. . . .
To read the entire review (which gives ordering information for Canton’s title), as it appears in the October 22, 2014 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the October 23 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Good Things