Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Monday, January 13, 2014

And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut's Life-Altering Hellscape

This is the young Kurt Vonnegut. Here he is long, hard way from becoming the Kurt Vonnegut we all recognize: the jowly, craggy-faced older man with the big shock of curly hair. This is before he shipped overseas and into the blazing maw of WWII in Germany. Soon after deploying to the front, he was caught up in the Battle of the Bulge, that Christmas-of-1944 horror that was the Third Reich's dying gasp. When American positions were overrun, he was captured, shipped east, starving and cold, on a train with other American prisoners, and ended up in Dresden--the beautiful, ancient, untouched-by-war city of Dresden.

He was put to work in a slaughter house--Slaughter House 5--making a vitamin enriched syrup for pregnant women. The place where he worked was sixty feet below the ground in a room carved from living rock where it was cool so the meat did not need to be refrigerated. He was down there working when the firebombing of Dresden happened  on February 13, 1945, just three months before the war ended. 135,000 people died that night, some vaporized/incinerated in the fire storm, some suffocated in cellars while they sat up on benches thinking they were safe, some boiled alive in vats of water where they had taken refuge. There was no reason to destroy Dresden. It had no military importance.

After the bombing, Vonnegut's job was to help in the final incineration/cremation of the remains of the citizens of Dresden. They stacked them up in piles and used flame throwers to get it done.

One might imagine these would have an impact on a young man's life. I suggest reading or re-reading Slaughter House 5. It's instructive. And then read the rest of Vonnegut's books. The horrors are all there in one form or another, in the humor and the bitterness and the crazy science fiction.

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