Coffee and Critique long-time member Jack Zerr has released his latest novel: The Happy Life of Preston Katt.
Not only is Zerr a talented writer, he also is very generous. He recently presented members of Coffee and Critique autographed copies of his novel. Once I began reading my copy, I had a hard time putting it aside.
Zerr's historical tale opens on the Island of Oahu on December 7, 1941, "a day that will live in infamy."
After a night of reckless abandon, Seaman First Class Preston Katt sneaks back aboard the USS Callahan scant hours before the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.
Preston Katt's naval service began right after high school graduation. He joined the Navy to escape his alcoholic and neglectful mother and to leave behind painful memories of growing up in the fictional town of Saint Ambrose, Missouri, where the only kindness he was shown was by his beloved teacher, Sister Ralph, and the charitable and warm-hearted shopkeeper, Frau Grossman.
In the Navy, Katt has found a new home as a sailor serving on lookout duty during the heat and chaos of the war in the Pacific. Katt has a unique talent. Using his favorite pair of Navy-issued binoculars, Katt's eagle-eye vision is responsible for spotting enemy warships and planes far away, saving several US vessels from being destroyed.
As the story unfolds, we learn about the daily grind of Navy life, as well as Katt's struggle with guilt and insecurities and his strong and sustaining faith.
As a Navy combat aviator, Zerr writes with authority and compassion. His vivid writing, strong characterization, and attention to detail make The Happy Life of Preston Katt a compelling read.