Interview with Tom Allemeier

What are your five favorite books, and why?
Well, by a wide margin, my all-time favorite is J.R.R.Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings trilogy. I think I've read it three times. His ability to paint a picture in your mind is astounding and, I believe, unmatched. That said, I'm not really an avid reader, though I used to be. I guess age has limited my patience with page turning. .
Next, I guess it would have to be just about anything written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I love the way he shocks you by shoving a mirror in your face, makes you snigger at your own absurdities, while at the same time assuring you that you are a completely normal human being, as much of a contradiction of terms that may be.
Describe your desk
My desk is huge, sits in a corner and wraps around to my left and right. To the right, from desktop level up to the ceiling there is a huge window, and when the evening is cool and the window is wide open it feels almost as if I am sitting outside. This side of the desk is clear, because when the wind kicks up anything left there will end up on the floor. The left side of the desk is usually cluttered. At the moment the scanner is sitting atop the printer because I can't find ink for the damn thing anywhere in Saigon - my third printer that has become useless for the same reason in the past two years. There is a pile of books for an IELTS course I'm trying to organize, a roll of toilet paper the housekeeper left this morning and a stack of newspapers I may use in a class one of these days (or throw away if they start to turn yellow). There's also a lamp with a lampshade slightly ajar. Because it's my day off there's also a package of Ritz crackers that I'll probably get into shortly. The area in front of me is pretty clear, with just the monitor, keyboard, mouse and a can of Tiger beer - well, it is my day off.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on Diller Road, a country road that I guess you could say was on the outskirts of the suburbs of a small city of about 100,000 people; Lima, Ohio. My father built the house and I can still remember walking with him through fields to the building site from a small motel room he had rented on the highway a couple of miles away. We had about three acres and the large picture window at the front of the house faced a large field that alternated, year after year, from corn to soya beans to wheat. Beyond the field was a large woods that I would spend the summers exploring with my dog Skip.
I suppose what had the most influence on me was not so much the place I grew up in but the person I grew up with; my father. He was a man of few words but many lessons and he taught by example, and many of these lessons I didn't understand until after he had died. I guess the most important lesson I learned from him, again by example, was that a person can have many negative qualities, but a few good ones, the right ones, can make you a very good person.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My father was a sailor during WWII. He would never talk about it and after I returned from Vietnam in 1972 I thought I understood why. We both had very minor roles in wars that had become defined by major events, major battles, victories and defeats. To speak of the parts we had played in these wars would do nothing but invite laughter and scorn. But still, it seemed to me that because most of the soldiers who had taken part in those wars were just like us, minions of the wars so to speak, their stories deserved to be told. To ignore them, as we have done, paints a rather distorted picture of the wars in terms of the experiences of the soldiers who took part in them.
Published 2014-06-02.
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Books by This Author

Inside the Wire: An Alternative View of the Vietnam War
Price: $1.00 USD. Words: 59,630. Language: American English. Published: May 31, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » History » American, Nonfiction » Social Science » Social classes
The majority of American troops in Vietnam were not involved in the shooting war. They did have their issues however. Written over 30 years ago, this series of anecdotes takes you through two years in the life of one such soldier, from being drafted until after being discharged. From the Local Draft Boards to Nixon’s War on Drugs, it’s all here.