Stray Son is an adult novel telling the story of a haunted Vietnam vet in the year 2000, reduced to working for a Santa Barbara mortuary, picking up dead bodies. One day he picks up a live one—his elderly father’s young ghost, a WWII Marine who starts following him around town. Then son receives a phone call that his old father just died. At that moment the young Marine knocks on the son’s trailer door. The grieving, confused son can no longer keep this apparition from his wife and kids—and opens the door. The Marine finally declares why he is there: to straighten out his stray son—and bum a ride to see his dying mother in a 1942 Sioux City, Iowa hospital. The son needs to take his family to Sioux City in the year 2000 to attend his father’s funeral. So the young father and the old son take their battles back to World War II on a trip across a wartime America towards death and an elusive reconciliation.
Rating: 5 stars
Stray Son by Richard Slota is an interesting piece of literature. Here, readers go one a ride of a lifetime. Traveling between the character’s past and present. Themes like family, love, and redemption are woven into the tale. Stray Son is a novel that leaves readers following Patrick. Patrick defys the norm when it comes to fictional characters in a way. He’s day job is peculiar yet he pays the bills. Bills like the months of rent. His job is to pick up dead bodies. Bodies of people that just died. Then, there’s his life background that made me feel sympathy for him. Soon, he sees a ghost and thinks he’s losing it. Only he can see a Marine. A Marine ghost that doesn’t stop following everywhere. Until, he introduces the ghost to his family once he found out that his father died. Sort of. Now, as a ghost and staying near the son he kicked out…is a lot to swallow. I found this tale stunning, heartbreaking, and realistic. The emotional journey of father and son is one that readers won’t be forgetting. It will stay with me forever. The sadness became my own. The life that the older son, Patrick had to live through because of his mother and father…was crazy. Yet in the end, it was good. Saddening in a good way. Then, somehow, when readers will least expect it, Richard Slota, surprises readers once more. Stray Son, is a great story. So much was packed into it. I felt like I was swallowed into one of those movies that make the watcher cry endlessly. Sad but good tears. Overall, I loved this powerful yet gritty novel. I recommend it to readers everywhere.
About the Author
My life is about going for the long odds, so of course I’ve written a literary novel, Stray Son. I assisted at autopsies in the army during Vietnam and worked countless hard scrabble jobs since. I earned my Masters in Creative Writing, have BA’s in Theater Arts and Psychology and I am a produced playwright and published poet.