We Were Beautiful Once: Chapters from a Cold War
We Were Beautiful Once is a fast paced legal fiction novel that interweaves the lives of young people prior to the Korean War onto to the frigid battlefields south of Manchuria.&;
The book begins in the early 1980’s when Nick Costalano a trial lawyer residing in Bridgeport Connecticut takes on trial against the US Army in trying to find the whereabouts of POW Pvt. Roger Girardin.; Did he really die?; Is he still alive?; What happened?
The novel starts in Costalano’s law office in Bridgeport when the brother of Nick Costalano retains his services to try and find out what really happened to his brother since the Army declared his death without any real proof.; The author takes us on a grand tour by looking back on Girardin’s young friends from high school and college prior to going to college.
After college is where Roger Girardin is enlisted in the army and his friend Trent Hamilton is an officer who surprisingly is also a POW captured by the Red Chinese in late 1950.; What transpired from late 1950 until 1953 at Camp 13 in North Korea along the Manchurian border is what Costalano is trying to find out.
Carvalko paints a picture of the people involved in this trial much like Edward Hopper captures the American landscape and shows us the loneliness of people struggling with the events of the past.; Costalano’s whereabouts and actions remind me of what transpired in the movie The Verdict. The scenes of the book are vivid and make the reader to continue turning the pages to see what happens.
Carvalko weaves a complex story with masterful trial scenes and intriguing investigative details. You won’t find the stunning answer until the very end.; Great read and masterfully told!
Reviewed by: Dick Geschke (2014)
Joseph Carvalko is an American writer, lawyer born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The novel, We Were Beautiful Once, Chapters from a Cold War was inspired by a case he tried in Federal Court to locate a Korean War POW. In addition to numerous professional and academic writing, other of his publications include: The Techno-Human Shell-A Jump in the Evolutionary Gap (2012), which details the rapid rise in cyborg-like technology; A Road Once Traveled, Life from All Sides (2007); and A Deadly Fog (2004).;In 2012, he was one of two finalists for the 2012 Red Mountain Press Prize for Poetry, for The Interior, A Memoir; and one of three finalists for the 2012 Esurance Poetry prize, for his poem The Road Home. When he is not writing, he plays jazz piano. He, his wife Susie, and four cats live between the Connecticut and Florida coastal areas.