Return of a Hero
A novelette by Gary Morse
(First published in Scarlet Leaf Review, January 2022)
After a combat tour in Iraq, a master sergeant longs to return to the life he once knew with his family, but finds instead a rebellious teenage daughter with both bipolar illness and an abusive boyfriend and the restless stirrings of his own traumas from the war and his youth.
— Content and themes deal with facing trauma and loss, mental health disorders, suicide and suicide risk, Iraq war, family conflict and parenting young adult children.—
Source of a River A literary fiction novel
Eight-year-old John is caught in a power struggle between grieving parents—his fearful mother and careless father. He resists his depressed mother’s fears and goes ice fishing with his dad, only to fall through the ice—an accident that for a brief time leaves him medically dead.
Almost twenty years after the accident, John is pursuing a successful career but realizes after a near accident, that he is depressed and trapped in a joyless relationship. His desire for passion is unexpectedly ignited by Claire, an older woman who is both wise and volatile, who challenges him to face his childhood trauma and his habit of leaning on women for security. He stumbles his way through a relationship with Claire, losses, and the adventure of a lifetime to recover a sense of aliveness and connection. In a sentence, the heart of the book depicts in literary fiction the human journey to overcome loss and fear and to embrace life while opening to experiences that exceed rational understanding.
(To be published in early 2023.)
To Normal and Beyond: Recovering from the Pandemic (and More) While Transforming Ourselves and the World A nonfiction book
Despite frenetic activity—working, shopping, gaming, screen time, and much more—millions of people are neither happy nor satisfied. We are instead living in an era of widespread disease, especially of mental health problems. Rates of depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse and drug overdose deaths, and unhappiness continue to reach record rates. Meanwhile, social problems, especially violence and political divisiveness, and environmental threats also continue to worsen. The pandemic has exacerbated many of these conditions, but our dirty, collective secret is that these are long-standing problems.
To Normal and Beyond will help the reader to understand the key cultural and psychological causes that lie beneath the plethora of personal and social problems that plague us. More importantly, this nonfiction book will empower readers to create a new, contemporary vision of what it means to live well—lives that are more fulfilled, more meaningful, more heroic. Readers will discover ways to be happier while also helping to make the world a healthier and saner place.
To Normal and Beyond distills wisdom from the world’s great spiritual traditions, identifies life-enhancing, science-based psychological principles, and provides specific strategies for personal growth. The material will have strong appeal to readers who long for greater fulfillment and a better world.
(In preparation; expected late 2022)