“When the big historic tale gets told, this might be a part they let fall through the cracks. So let me fill you in. I’m not going to tell it pretty, because it’s a war story. And a war story is like a hunk of shrapnel. It’s got nasty ragged edges.”
So begins the novel Wonks, inspired by the real-life experiences of author William Reese Hamilton, who was imprisoned with his family by the Japanese Army for over three years in Santo Tomas Internment Camp, Manila during World War II.
A coming of age story that tests the limits of love, Wonks opens when the Japanese Imperial Army sweeps into the Philippines on Johnny Oldfield’s twelfth birthday, “bombing and strafing and generally laying siege”.
Separated from his father by the Japanese invasion, Johnny gets his life lessons from a diverse cast of characters within Santo Tomas’ walls: his mother Ruth, a nurse with a strong and independent spirit; Harry Barnes, a storyteller who arrives from China carrying the urn of a friend’s ashes; Southy Jack, an ex-pro boxer who trains boys in the manly art; Polecat, a mestizo pal with an all-consuming hatred for the Japanese; the Colonel, a wise old plantation owner who gives advice on survival; Haverford, a disgruntled alcoholic from Manila’s high society; and Abiko, the feared officer of the Japanese camp guard.
When their adult models are arrested and taken out of camp, Johnny and Polecat turn to guerrilla raids, stealing food from their captors‘ kitchen and rumaging through Japanese supplies for weapons.
Ragged and scrawny from camp life, Johnny calls himself a WONK (from the Chinese, won-gau, yellow dog) a mongrel running with pack of rebellious kids and viewing society from the ground up.
This dramatic tale is played out in the heart of Manila, a city once called “the Pearl of the Orient,” now being destroyed by massive bombing, strafing, artillery barrage and mortar attack.
Paris Review, Review Americana, In Posse Review, Story Quarterly and Eclectica Magazine Have Published Selections From Wonks by William Reese Hamilton
About the Author
William Reese Hamilton’s work has appeared in over twenty print and online publications, including The Paris Review, The North American Review, The Adirondack Review, StoryQuarterly, Review Americana, Puerto del Sol and Eclectica Magazine. His education includes bachelor and master of arts degrees in literature, and a mixed bag of experience: factory worker, lifeguard, ordinary seaman, English teacher, counterintelligence agent, Romanian interrogator, advertising copywriter and creative director.
Author: William Reese Hamilton
Publisher: Eclectica Press International, LLC
Available at Amazon.com.
Source: Eclectica Press International, LLC.