Finalist selection for the 78th annual California Book Award
Hollis and Debra have settled into their golden years in a gated community outside of Tucson. Although they are devoted to each other, events that took place decades earlier have left Hollis with a deep-seated trauma–and with a secret he has never been able to share with his wife. When Debra is diagnosed with cancer, she makes her husband a simple request–“Tell me about us”–which forces Hollis to revisit his past.
In 1950, Hollis fought in the Korean War alongside the bigoted but charismatic Bill McCreedy. McCreedy seems to have it all, although he is a mercurial soldier whose ungovernable behavior is often at odds with what Hollis believes to be right. Now, years later, Hollis is haunted by memories of McCreedy and his own wartime actions that he had tried to suppress. These recollections eventually lead him from the body-strewn battlefields of Korea to the remote farmhouse in Texas where McCreedy had grown up–and for the first time he finds himself examining his and Debra’s life to understand how chance had played a hand in bringing them together.
Praise for THE POST-WAR DREAM:
[CRITIC'S PICK] The real triumph here is in the structure: The novel begins at the end, winding back in on itself as memory and moment combine to produce the end of a life. Finely narrated in elegiac prose with drawings by partner and collaborator Peter I. Chang, The Post-War Dream stands as another mark of the breadth of Cullin's genre-bending talent. - Out (Emily Drabinski)
There are times when love, nothing but love, seems somehow insufficient as the ultimate meaning of a life. But that is what we end up with - if we're lucky.... That ruminative quest is the sum and substance of Mitch Cullin's fine new novel. - Palm Beach Post (Scott Eyman)
Cullin excels in bringing forth the most profound imagery in this novel, writing in language that speaks almost spiritually to the particular vast Arizona landscapes.... But this book also serves as a poignant and gentle reminder of an ordinary man and his wife caught up in the throes of one of life's greatest challenges: facing death with dignity and bravery. - Curled Up With A Good Book (Michael Leonard)
Cullin followers will recognize the same sharp psychologist who meditated on deterioration in his previous novel, "A Slight Trick of the Mind." - San Francisco Chronicle (Rachel Nolan)
Mitch Cullin is a tremendous storyteller.... The love Hollis and Debra have for each other is so well told you know this couple and really feel their pain. - Armchair Interviews (Connie Anderson)
As with Cullin's work in general, it is the language that makes the book worth your effort. The fact that he is able to weave such a gripping story as well is a bonus for the reader. - The Free Lance-Star (Howard Owen)
Cullin skillfully blends several genres.... a moving novel that successfully portrays one man’s journey to self-forgiveness. - Philly Blurbs (Danielle Bullen)
[A] must-read book.... Cullin's wording is beautiful and inspirational - The Oklahoman (Dennie Hall)
Cullin tells a tender story of Debra and Hollis' love, and describes well Debra's effort to live with dignity and courage. - The Newark Star-Ledger (Dylan Foley)
Cullin has a naturally poetic style, which tends toward revelatory moments and memorable sensory descriptions.... the novel ends with a satisfying twist that ultimately renders it a tender-hearted and moving [...] examination of love and loss. - The L Magazine (Anna Sophie Potter)
In this exacting, suspenseful, elegiac yet life-embracing novel, Cullin reminds us that no boundaries separate the personal and communal, the past and present, the false and true. - Los Angeles Times (Donna Seaman)
"The Post-War Dream" is another stunning novel from Mitch Cullin. - Strand Bookstore
Mitch Cullin's fine novel, (The) 'Post-War Dream' is as much about love as it is about coming to terms with memories.... A sensitively told, finely crafted story.
- The Denver Post (Sybil Downing)
Cullin's brilliantly clear descriptions of both emotions and landscapes give this story a near-mystical feel as Hollis' life is shown to be far from ordinary.
- Booklist (Joanne Wilkinson)
This touching, quintessentially American story of marriage, aging, and the fading Greatest Generation is enhanced by poetic prose, vivid accounts of war, and sympathetic characters whom many of us will find familiar.
- Library Journal (Jenn B. Stidham)
Dislike for THE POST-WAR DREAM:
Flashbacks to Korea provide welcome reprieve, but the reader never connects with Hollis or Debra, so their suffering feels muted, even as the narrative dives into stark tragedy. - Publishers Weekly (anonymous)
A misstep in Cullin's unpredictable, adventurous and, alas, frustratingly uneven oeuvre. - Kirkus Reviews (anonymous)