A Night of Novelists – Renée Thompson and Bill McCausland ||| Nov 14 @ 7:30 pm


                                                                       Hosted by Frank Dixon Graham

Join us for a night of novelists at the Sacramento Poetry Center. Two gifted writers, Bill McCausland and Renée Thompson, will read from their most recently published novels.

Renée Thompson writes about her love of birds, wildlife, and the people who inhabit the American West. Her second novel, The Plume Hunter, received outstanding endorsements from David Sibley, Bill Thompson and Tim Gallagher. Her first novel, The Bridge at Valentine, received high praise from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry, and was selected as the Woodland Reads 2014 Community Novel. She lives on five acres in Northern California with her husband and black Lab, and is currently at work on a new novel.

Bill McCausland is a Vietnam War veteran who had a special assignment from the Department of the Army to work in a joint military-civilian counterinsurgency program in Vietnam. He was assigned to the Military Assistance Command-Vietnam and worked with the civilians of the United States Agency for International Development. He worked with a colonel in a two-man office at a U.S. Embassy Annex to assist a general who was the special assistant to Ambassador Bill Colby who later became the head of the CIA. McCausland went to graduate school when he returned from Vietnam and earned a doctorate in clinical psychology. He attended the training program of the Veterans Administration at the National Center for PTSD in Palo Alto. He was also on the best practices committee for PTSD as part of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group for northern California. McCausland also has a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.

McCausland’s book, In the Mouth of the Wolf, has a layered set of characters, each with his or her own personal questions, who confront their past as it bears on their present behavior if they are to survive. Three men in the novel have varying degrees of war trauma. Their wives display different ways of absorbing the war experience upon the men’s arrival home. The book principally encompasses the impact on marital relationships and other human connections when soldiers return from war. The story has its roots in the Vietnam War, but unlike the old stories that have all ready been told about Vietnam, this tale embraces homecoming for the main character, Memo Muir. A few scenes in Vietnam demonstrate the brutality that the war has on Memo’s mind. Two of Memo’s wartime buddies deal with their homecoming in different ways. Jack, a trauma surgeon in the war, was severely affected by his experience, though shows a significant amount of resilience. However, Chet completely shuts down and expresses his concerns and emotions by self-medicating with sundry drugs; thus, further slanting his perceptions that have been misshapen by his war experience, leading to dire consequences. In the Mouth of the Wolf comes from a Spanish saying, which means, “you don’t have a chance,” an apt metaphor for the characters’ struggles. Memo and his wife separate because of Memo’s war trauma, despite the deep love that imbues their souls. By the end of the book there are transformative experiences that bring about a surprise rapprochement between them.

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