It's Pride Month and every day, N. N. Light's Book Heaven will feature a book and an author from the LGBTQ+ community. First up is one of our favorite fiction author, Hans M. Hirschi. He writes feel-good stories and this is his brand-new release.
Title: Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Feel-good
Martin is eighty-four years old, a Korean War veteran, living quietly in a retirement home in upstate New York. His days are ruled by the routine of the staff. In his thoughts and dreams, Martin often returns to the Seoul of his youth, and the lost true love of his life.
Two close friends urge him to travel back to search for that love. What awaits Martin in Korea, more than six decades after he left the country on a troop transport back to the U.S.?
Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm is a story of friendship, love, and family, in all its many shapes, across time, generations and cultures.
When Martin got to his room on the seventeenth floor, he was exhausted. He stepped up to the window and looked out over the city. The sun had set, and the city lights brightened the sky in the twilight hour before complete darkness fell over Seoul. He could barely believe he was back. He hadn’t said anything to the others, but the ride had been nerve-wracking, to say the least.
It wasn’t until they’d reached the inner city that he had recognized anything, and even then, it was only when he saw Mount Namsan that he felt they’d actually arrived in the right place. Even that hill looked different, with the tall television and communications tower on top of it and all the skyscrapers at its base. Yes, he’d recognized an ancient gate and a statue here and there as they’d approached the hotel, but it felt as if he were in a dream somehow, or was it a nightmare?
He remembered being told that, traditionally, no house in Seoul was to be taller than the king’s or, later, the emperor’s palace buildings. Those were hardly higher than a three-story house. Lots of them, lots and lots of them, but they were not very tall. To see modern Seoul with all the concrete, steel, and glass skyscrapers was a shock, and Martin was acutely aware of the physical impact it had on him.
He felt as if he had aged a decade, and he desperately clutched his cane for support. The long trip, as comfortable as it was in their big business-class seats with all the wine and food served by attentive flight attendants, it was still tiring, not to mention walking through the huge Incheon International Airport. Yet it was the cab ride to the hotel that had taken the biggest toll on him. The endless images, the countless visual impressions crushing down on him in wave after wave had exhausted him.
He was at a loss for words, couldn’t put a name on what he felt. No photograph he had seen on the screen of Kevin’s laptop had been able to remotely prepare him for reality. Exhilarated? Yes. Exhausted? For sure. Amazed? Likely. Scared as hell? Definitely.
Yet here he was, more than sixty years after he’d left, overlooking a city that was so utterly transformed his mind still found it difficult to wrap itself around the concept that this was indeed Seoul, the very Seoul where he’d spent three years of his young life, working alongside people from a handful of countries and countless locals, to help restore government functions in a country ravaged by decades of occupation and two major wars.
Seoul. Ji-Hoon. He couldn’t see any of the palaces or Bukchon from his hotel room window, yet his mind wandered to the image of Ji-Hoon, how he’d last seen him, as they’d lain naked in a cheap hotel bed after making love to each other, one last time. He was to ship out in just a couple of days and was expected to return to base, in Yongsan, to get all his papers in order and to await transport to Incheon and then on to the States.
He pictured the young man’s face, the tears he had shed, the heartache they had both felt, the loneliness that they both knew lay ahead—Ji-Hoon in a marriage to a woman he barely knew, arranged by others, trapped with the secret of loving someone else, Martin, living a lie as well, never being able to tell anyone without the consequence of an immediate and dishonorable discharge, shamed for life, with no veteran benefits, shunned by family and society alike, lonely.
Ji-Hoon. How was your life? Did you find happiness after all? Was your marriage a good one? Did you live a good life? The questions rushed through Martin’s mind as he looked up at Namsan Tower and the many skyscrapers extending into the distance, as far as he could see. Only the doorbell finally woke him from his reveries.
A maid stood at the door, asking to do a turndown service. Confused, Martin didn’t really know what that meant but asked her to come in. The maid quickly bowed and hurried past him into the room where she replaced the bathroom towel he had used to wash his face and made the bed again, where he’d only lain down for a few minutes, his muscles and bones aching from the long trip. She placed a small chocolate on each pillow of the king-size bed, bowed again, and left, all done within just a couple of minutes.
“Thank you!” Martin called after her in Korean. He looked at his watch and realized he had to get down to the lobby where the other two would undoubtedly be waiting for him to go out for dinner. He grabbed a jacket from the closet and left his room, his mind still occupied with the image of the man he’d come here for.
The Amazon (universal) link: http://mybook.to/morningcalm
B&N (Nook): https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/returning-to-the-land-of-the-morning-calm-hans-m-hirschi/1127938636?ean=2940155123552
Author’s thoughts on Pride Month and/or Diversity in Books:
Sadly, it’s still necessary. People still have so many misconceptions and there’s so much hatred against the LGBT community still that Pride will be needed for several generations to come. The recent legislation in Kansas and the one currently discussed in Illinois prove that.
Hans M Hirschi has been writing stories since childhood. As an adult, the demands of corporate life put an end to his fiction for more than twenty years. A global executive in training, he has traveled the world and published several non-fiction titles as well as four well-received novels. The birth of his son provided him with the opportunity to rekindle his love of creative writing, where he expresses his deep passion for a better world through love and tolerance. Hans lives with his husband and son on a small island off the west coast of Sweden.
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