This collection is Book 3 of a four-book, on-going series by author/columnist Robert Flanagan to recreate and present a 6-year selection of his newspaper column “Bits & Pieces,” originally published weekly in the Hampshire Review, Romney, W.Va., over a 19-year period, September 1999 - June 2018.
A writer since youth, the author did not come to his advanced state by any route of convention. A long military career, followed by two corporate jobs, a stint of college teaching, with a durable marriage and family commitments, delayed educational aspirations, finishing his second post-graduate degree at age 46.
And his major work — “The ASA Trilogy,” three contiguous novels about a covert military intelligence world in Viet Nam and the Cold War — was not accomplished in the supportive atmosphere of agent reviews-publisher encouragement; “The End” was penned in a small hotel’s garden in Salzburg, Austria, in the late autumn dusk while on a 50th wedding anniversary gift journey, 43 years after the trilogy’s beginning with journals and notes in 1964 Viet Nam. Four more years remained before the third volume saw print.
The author lived/served in seven countries, traveled in 41 others; lived/served in 12 U.S. states, traveling in all 50, and his work is suffused with those experiences, perspectives and variegated life. Beyond international interests, his works embody varied subjects: cats, grandchildren, literature, wines, food, wars, Irish Whiskey and the improbable, intemperate behavior of fellow human beings.
A challenging, informative, fun read despite its factual basis, Flanagan — an ardent proponent and practitioner of the use of irony in all things written — cautions the reader on this and his other works: “Don’t take all this (his projected vision) too seriously. There’s no way any of us are going to get out of here alive!” Paperback. 364 pages.