“Wounded Tiger” Mixed Bag, Mixed Genres


“Wounded Tiger” A Nonfiction Novel

“Wounded Tiger” is chiefly about Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, the pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor. This ambitious story opens on December 1941 in Tokyo, where Emperor Hirohito is described as falling weightless from a cliff’s edge, a metaphor for his decision to establish Japan’s dominance over the Pacific and East Asia.

Fuchida is well developed. We see this proud, talented military leader being challenged, disillusioned and transformed: “[H]e… observed the soot-covered poor carting off grotesque corpses, the veil of the elegant theories of war was torn away to reveal the hideous reality of a people enduring unimaginable suffering.”

T Martin Bennett excelled at finding the balance between conveying facts and demonstrating creativity. Authors writing in the hybrid category of nonfiction novel can flout some conventions of either or both genres. I would have appreciated meaningful footnotes or endnotes, an index and a bibliography to bolster nonfiction content. I would have liked a stronger spotlight on narrative arc to find this completely satisfying as a novel.

It’s evident that Bennett amassed a mountain of researched material, and the main story in this, his first novel, is overwhelmingly compelling enough to be, in the right hands, an important movie on a par with “Letters from Iwo Jima.” For that to happen, ruthless editing and disciplined script writing is necessary, especially considering standard movie runtimes. (In fact, Bennett first wrote “Wounded Tiger” as a screenplay.)

Enough material exists in the more than 450 pages of the first edition of the nonfiction novel to be reshaped into several books. As it is, “Wounded Tiger” tries to be too much – biography, history, conversion story, saga, creative nonfiction, novel – in one package. For that reason, I believe “Wounded Tiger” would be of interest to WWII enthusiasts, and have limited crossover appeal.

At times, it seems as though Bennett threw in scenes not to move the plot forward, but rather to remind readers about some of the other characters’ existence. For example, he included short scenes occurring at the Andrus farm in Oregon, where the family of an Air Force pilot who participated in Doolittle’s raid and becomes a POW, copes with the agony of not knowing where he is or if he’s alive.

The half-page final chapter, set in 1950, is given to the young woman whose forgiving nature inspired Fuchida’s conversion to Christianity.

The second edition, according to one of Bennet’s websites, includes 276 photos – there are none in the first edition. The newer edition includes more maps – the rudimentary maps in the first edition add nothing to readers’ understanding of situations that wasn’t adequately explained in the text. The second edition boasts 10,000 more words than the first edition. One hopes that typos littering the first edition were fixed before the second edition was published.

Overall, I liked the first edition and extend kudos to Bennett for his monumental achievement.  Nevertheless, the book could have been better if it were shorter.

By Beth Fowler, author of “Ken’s War.” 




Make Money Writing Travel Articles – Part I

Photos help sell articles.

Photos help sell articles.

Around the world, billions of people read articles and books that transport them to Bali, explain Italy’s public transport, describe where to shop in NYC…Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure your experiences could make great reading and bucks. Here are the first five of ten reasons to take notes and photos.

1. You travel.

That’s a plus, although travel isn’t a requirement for writing and selling travel articles.

2. The need for travel writers is growing.

United World Tourism Organization forecasts a “4-4.5% growth in international tourist arrivals in 2014.” Tourism is the world’s largest growth industry with no signs of slowing down in the 21st century. Travel writers provide a vital service in this humongous market.

3. A humongous market demands well-written travel articles.

As one travel editor put it, “If the article contains information that’s unique and useful to readers, I’ll buy it.” Find markets listed yearly in America’s Writers’ Market, and Britian’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. Numerous magazines and newspapers not listed under “Travel” in these resources also buy travel articles. Tons of publications aren’t listed in market compendia, so keep your eyes open for periodicals on newsagents’ shelves and friends’ coffee tables, in lobby magazine racks and secondhand stores, at club and association venues, and in mainstream bookstores and offbeat book nooks. Google phrases such as “magazines that pay travel writers,” “websites that pay for travel articles” and similar combos of those kinds of words to find paying markets.

4. Travel writers can earn high returns for low investment.

You probably already own the electronic gizmos you need to write articles, shoot photos and email them; so capital outlay is virtually nil. If you happen to be in Salzburg, say, on business or vacation, jot notes, snap photographs, collect tourist brochures and send a query to several magazines and newspapers. Doing exactly that, I earned US$500 for an 800-word article. Travel writer compensation ranges from to free copies of the publication to payment amounts that need a comma.

5. Literary brilliance not essential.

Luckily for those who haven’t attained the celestial levels of Bill Bryson, L. Peat O’ Neil and their ilk, plenty of markets exist. (Study these and other masters. They are our mentors.) Even renowned travel writers didn’t start out super-talented. Most publications can’t afford the fees big-time writers command. Countless editors are eager to buy travel pieces that are professionally presented, interesting and appeal to the targeted audience. Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing, The Travel Writer’s Handbook and other how-to books are available at http://www.amazon.com, in bricks ‘n’ mortar bookstores and libraries. Writing books are shelved in your library’s 800 section; travel in 910.

If this article was helpful, then “like” and share it with other writers who want to get published.

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(C) Beth Fowler 2014

(C) Beth Fowler 2014

It’s 1965 and Ken Paderson is itchin’ to get his driver’s license so he can escape his parents’ tight control. But his world turns upside down when he and his dad are whisked off to a remote army outpost in Japan. The novel, Ken’s War, is slated for publication later this year by Melange Books LLC.