From David Willson, Vietnam Veterans of America “Books in Review II”:
EXCERPT: This is a giant of a novel, the size of books that Thomas Wolfe wrote. Modern life dictates that novels of this length are seldom written and even more seldom read or finished.
The story begins in 1964. It goes on for thirteen chapters until it ends with a chapter entitled “1977.” The novel thoroughly immerses us in the hippie scene of free love and abundant drug use in San Francisco and full tribute is paid to the music of the time. I could almost hear Jimi and Janis coming out of the pages.
Woven throughout is the Vietnam War and the outlaw biker brotherhood. First, we are introduced to the young men and the women who love them, and then the men are drafted or join the Marines.
Make no mistake about it, this unsung book is a giant accomplishment. L.V. Sage brings to life a huge multiracial cast of characters who are skillfully individualized. Also, the Zeitgeist of the time is fully captured.
We get a huge, living tableau of realistic, flesh-and-blood characters whom this reader grew to know, love, root for, and feel terrible about when they were wounded, bled, and died. The author presents us with lives in America that are rarely seen in serious fiction, and these lives are portrayed in an evenhanded, non-judgmental, non-sensational manner.
I was sorry when the book ended, even though the weight of it made my arms ache. The high quality of the printing. editing, and typography made it a pleasure to read. Usually my destroyed eyes require the use of a lighted magnifier to read any book, but I was able to read this one unaided, which was also a pleasure.
This huge book gives attention to most of the usual Vietnam War concerns we see in novels and memoirs. That includes John Wayne, ham and mothers, R&R, REMF’s, and baby killers, as well as the oft-used phrases: “There it is” and “Don’t mean nuthin’.”
As the author says about a Fourth of July celebration (but which applies to every page of this book): “All in all, a good mix to keep things lively and interesting.”
I highly recommend this book to readers in search of a book that extols and makes believable the healing force of being a member of an outlaw biker club. I look forward eagerly to the 800-page sequel that the author promises us.
There is a strong back-and-forth movement between Vietnam and The World to show us what the women left behind are doing. Mostly they are smoking dope, having sex, and raising vegetables on farms out in the country. There is much talk of groovy everything: vibes, cosmic energy, the Karmic Wheel of Life, Tarot cards, and every other sort of 1960’s bullshit—all of it delivered pitch perfect by the author who truly knows that scene from the inside out, as do I from my own immersion in it.
While their women (or “ladies” in sixties parlance) are doing the aforementioned, the men are being shot to shit in Vietnam. One of the characters is stationed in the rear for a while, then gets sent out into the bush.
Much of the Vietnam War action is believably portrayed, but some false notes are struck. I strongly suspect that the author did not serve in the military in Vietnam.
On the other hand, Sage presents a great wealth of strong, well-portrayed woman characters in this book. More than once a female character says that women are the stronger sex.
From Doug Barber, http://www.vtwinbiker.com
Well written, easy read, 760 pages of American life during one of the most tumultuous periods of U.S. history. The book spans 1964 through 1977. A diverse group of characters finds themselves drawn together by the magnetic forces of the west coast phenomena of hippies, drugs, sex and communal living. In the book life separates them, and brings them back together again. Some go off to fight in the Vietnam War, forever to be changed. The book is also about the rarefied environment that bred a new generation of motorcycle clubs, and how these clubs filled a special need for war torn veterans, and other lost souls.
This book is a personal portrait of history illustrated with fictional characters. For me it was a flash back filled with folks I knew. It is not a glorified shoot-em-up episode of a popular TV show. Warning, some of the war narratives are graphic. They may be hard to stomach, but are necessary for the development of characters and their relationship with others. This book may not set well with some, but is a must read for all who need to know from where we came and where we are going. In the end the book is a testament to the strength of friendship.
The heart felt transition from a young man afraid of the possibility of dying in Vietnam and avoiding death by running away to Canada brought me back to an important trip on my personal journey. I found the book riveting and as a Marine veteran who shared many of the experiences of this book it was at times very emotional. The journey from a fearful, unsure and cocky young man to a responsible father is one that I was fortunate to make. I felt as if I were coexisting with the characters in their actions and dreams. An excellent portrayal of what I experienced during this defining time. My thanks to L.V. for the memories, I cannot wait to experience the sequel. -Mike Coletti
In my experience, books come in 3 flavors; “can’t get through the first chapter,” “can’t put it down,” and “don’t ever want it to end.” Red, White & Blues is the sort of book that you read voraciously because you want to know what happens. But then as you realize you’re reaching the end you slow down to avoid the tearful good-bye as you close the cover for the final time.
LV Sage’s novel is dangerously full of characters… so many that you might risk losing track if not for her ability to create an instant intimacy. Her most lovable characters became my new best friends. The least savory of the bunch wormed their ways into my heart like crazy childhood friends whom you can’t cut loose. With a knack for great storytelling and an enviable talent for character development, LV Sage has won a fan for life in me. Sequel please! -Maggie Brewer
Morgan Stewart is a Vietnam vet who has established a motor cycle club and, strangely enough, he also establishes a family in which misfits and sociopaths manage to find a home. Although Red, White & Blues is pungent with memorable characters, I thought the roles of Morgan and Mike were particularly strong. While others stagnated and failed to mature, these two men seemed to suck up their tragic pasts and find the motivation to move on. Louise was a powerful female role model as well. The story is so complex that readers will find themselves asking, “Where was I and what was I doing while all of this was occurring?” It’s a thought-provoking tale of drugs, free sex, traditions and choices that will keep readers thinking long after the back cover is closed.