As Good As Can Be by William A. Glass
Publisher: Hawkeye Publishers, (April 14, 2020)
Category: Fiction: Coming of Age; War and Military; Family Saga
Tour dates: May & June,
2020 ISBN: 978-1-946005-34-2
Available in Print and ebook,
Description As Good As Can Be by William A. Glass‘As Good As Can Be’ is a novel about the wayward son of an alcoholic army officer. As his dysfunctional family moves from one military base to the next, Dave Knight develops a give-a-damn attitude that goes well with his ironic sense of humor. In high school he joins other delinquents in a series of escapades, some dangerous, others funny, and a few that would be worthy of jail time should the troublemakers be caught. After barely graduating Dave gets drafted into the army and sent to guard a nuclear weapons depot in Korea. There he runs afoul of his sergeant and must scramble to avoid dishonorable discharge. ‘As Good As Can Be’ draws on the author's experiences growing up in an out-of-control military family during the 1950's and his own military experience.
Advance Praise As Good As Can Be by William A. Glass“A sweeping family saga that takes you into the world of a military family. A great read.” “William’s book flows magically, I had a stack of papers to grade one night but thought I would read a chapter before I started. Next thing I knew it was 2:00 am and I hadn’t graded anything!”
The Neckar River has frozen solid, and hundreds of people are taking advantage of the rare occurrence to go out on the ice. Among them are Lt. Col. Knight and his five children. They’re walking toward the orange-colored roofs of Heidelberg and an Old Town restaurant the family calls “the place under the bridge.” It’s a cozy bistro off a cobblestone plaza next to an eighteenth-century stone bridge.
When they get to the restaurant, the Knights are seated at a corner table next to a tile oven. Gradually the stove thaws their feet while a platter of Wiener schnitzel warms their bellies. Then the family walks back across the river to where the Plymouth is parked. This time they use the bridge.
“Did you get something to eat?” Bobbie asks when Knight and the children arrive home.
“Yes, we went to the place under the bridge,” Melissa answers.
“Good, then I don’t need to fix anything,” Bobbie says.
“What did you eat, Mom?” Dan asks.
“Oh, I just had soup and a salad; it was plenty for me.”
“You kids need to get ready for bed now,” Knight orders. “Tomorrow’s a school day.”
While Bobbie takes the children upstairs, Knight relaxes in the living room of the house the family has called home for the last two years. It’s a handsome prewar four-bedroom located in the prosperous Heidelberg suburb of Handschuhsheim. The only problem is that it’s too far from the American schools at the Army base where Knight works. So now Melissa, Dave, and Dan attend nearby German schools.
Dave often plays hooky, but it’s bitter cold the next morning, so he goes to school. At first, he tries to understand what the teacher is saying, then he gives up and gets out a comic book. It’s one he’s read several times before and doesn’t hold his attention. He’s happy later when the class is sent outside for recess.
On the playground, a game of tag gets underway, and Dave joins in. It’s fun at first, but as he’s pausing to catch his breath, another boy comes over and spits at him. “Ami,” the kid exclaims then turns to walk away. But Dave tackles the German from behind, and instantly the antagonists are surrounded by a yelling crowd of schoolmates. When Dave manages to get on top of his adversary, some of the spectators begin aiming kicks at his head. One lands on Dave’s cheek, so forgetting his current opponent, he grabs the next boot that comes sailing in, then stands and twists the German’s foot, bringing him to the ground. Dave’s on the kid in an instant, but before he can land a punch, the bell rings signifying the end of recess. That ends the melee.
On his way back to class, Dave brushes some of the dirt off his clothes. He has bruised knuckles, a swollen cheek, and the coppery taste of blood in his mouth. The injuries are not unexpected. Fighting is a regular feature of Dave’s school day.
Back in the classroom, it’s time for diktat, which means that the teacher will spend the next half hour reading from a book while the students write down what she says. Dave used to try and write down what he heard during diktat, but after almost two years of getting his notebook returned with big red X’s covering every page, he has stopped making any effort. The teacher has not said anything about this. She is no doubt relieved not to have to look at Dave’s illegible gobbledygook anymore.
As the teacher drones on, Dave idly puts a hand over his eyes to block the light. Then he separates his fingers to create a gap, and he can see the teacher sitting at her desk. She has her head down reading. Dave tries this with his other hand, first covering his eyes, then peeking through a gap. Next, he makes a fist and holds it up to one eye while shutting the other. With his fingers clenched, Dave cannot see the teacher, but when he opens them, his hand becomes a telescope, and he can see her. Now Dave uses two fists to block both eyes then slowly opens his fingers to make a pair of binoculars. He sees the teacher staring at him incredulously. “Dave, raus,” she shouts. The boy knows this means “get out,” so he quickly gathers up his coat and satchel, then walks shamefaced to the door.
The next morning Dave walks past the school and keeps going. Eventually, he reaches the outskirts of town where the land is divided into small plots. Apartment dwellers rent these to use as gardens, and in the summer, they are full of life. But now the icy plots are desolate. All that’s left of summer is the withered stalks of long-dead plants that poke up through the snow. Dave wanders the area until it’s time for him to go home.https://williamaglass.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/william.glass.50767?ref=bookmarks Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/williamasaglass/
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My Review:As Good As Can Be was a pretty good debut by William A. Glass. I was intrigued reading about Dave’s life. I enjoyed watching him grow throughout the book and learning how he grew up in the military life during the 1960s. It was quite the journey and adventure. To me, it felt like I was reading a memoir instead of a fictionalized account. The author definitely knew how to draw in the reader.
I am giving As Good As Can Be four and a half stars. I would recommend it for readers who enjoy Military Historical Fiction.
I received this book from the publisher. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.