Remains of the Corps
Will Remain is a fictional author. He is a third-generation Marine and a veteran of the war in Vietnam. He is writing a trilogy that will be the first multigenerational account of a Marine Corps family, chronicling his own family’s service and lives over a sixty-year period and through four wars. His work is titled The Remains of the Corps: A Marine Family History. Book I of the trilogy is titled Eagle, and Books II and III will be titled Globe and Anchor, respectively. Offered here for your consideration is the Prologue to and Chapter 1 of Eagle. Readers are encouraged to provide feedback on the material presented. In the Prologue (1,900 words), Will Remain provides, through excerpts from his personal journals, the back story on how he came to write The Remains of the Corps. In Chapter 1 (29,000 words), Will’s grandfather, Kenneth Remain, rises from the poverty of his youth to attend Harvard College where he befriends two people, the born to the purple Lawrence Blakeslee and Lawrence’s beautiful sweetheart, Kathleen Mulcahy, both of whom will greatly impact Kenneth’s life. Kenneth’s early story is told against the backdrop of historic Harvard College during the period 1913 to 1917, as war rages in Europe and Harvard students are heading off to the war by the hundreds, while America is still debating its role in the conflict. Since he was a youth, Kenneth has wanted to be a part of a great crusade. He has also long been enamored of the United States Marines and enlists as an officer in the Corps, triggering events that will have enormous repercussions on two families for generations to come.
Will Remain is a pseudonym for Tom Hebert, a second-generation Marine and a veteran of the war in Vietnam. Tom is also the author of Notes on Once An Eagle, a non-fiction work (cliff-notes style) on Anton Myrer’s classic novel Once An Eagle.
The Remains of the Corps has been in development for more than three years. Tom takes his writing very seriously. Prior to writing the novel’s first words, he completed comprehensive inventories of applicable vocabulary, clichés, and slang. He also studied literary devices, making significant use of alliteration, allusion, anagram, assonance/consonance, characterization, cliché, conflict, dialect, epigraph, flashback, foreshadowing, imagery, irony, personification, metaphor, mood, motif, repetition, quotation, setting, simile, style, vocabulary, and vocabulary of the period. He also employed: comic relief, euphemism, idiom, onomatopoeia, oxymoron, and symbolism. To ensure the authenticity of this work of historical fiction, he thoroughly researched Marine Corps history and, for the period encompassing the early 1900s, the cities and people of Boston, Worcester and Cambridge, as well as Harvard College.
The Remains of the Corps is dedicated “To every American, past and present, who claimed the title of United States Marine.”
This is a clever concept. Will Remain is the fictional author of a trilogy of books about three generations of Marines -- literally, the Remains of the Corps. This first volume, Eagle, begins the adventure. It's well-researched and does all the things that historical fiction is supposed to do. However, it goes a step further, using literary techniques to create something that is richer and more complex -- and as ambitious as To Kill a Mockingbird.
Eagle focuses on the relationship of two young men in Harvard in the months before the United States entered World War I. Like college students throughout the eons, they have their own lingo, a fixation on sports (in this case rowing), a tiered social structure, and a reverence for tradition. Like many boys turning into men, the main characters -- Kenneth and Lawrence -- find comfort in each other's company, are in love with the same woman, and come from different family circumstances. And, like generation after generation of idealistic young males searching for adventure, they decide to join the Marines for the best and worst of reasons. Kenneth sees it as a chance to compete ... to prove himself in a world that requires proof of quality. Lawrence sees it as a way to expand his already expansive perspective.
As a mother and historian, I want to say -- no, wait -- you are young, life is too precious to risk it for such shallow reasons -- for any reason. But young men never listen to mothers -- they must chase their romantic notions about war -- it's a result of throbbing testosterone and media lies (in this case literature) -- and the needs of the nation in question. Mothers' fears never win out. Clearly, Thomas Hebert's story raised the hairs on my arms and tore at my soul. I look forward to the next volume in his trilogy--but with a heavy heart.
Reviewed by: Joyce Faulkner (2012)