It is appropriate that on Memorial Day, Angel McCoy of Wiley Writers released the first of two stories I selected (during my very delightful stint as a guest editor) for the "Warrior" theme. The story "Where the Dacouvri Died" by Brian Dolton (a consummate short story writer from New Mexico) is a tale that so perfectly describes the tense relationship between civilians and warriors. Stop by and have a read or a listen to the story and then check out all the other wonderful fiction Wiley Writers offers.
Here is my introduction to the tales:
As editor for Wily Writers this month, I chose the theme of Warriors, those compelling and complex characters in traditional myth and history. Unlike the heroes of folktales who are often thrust alone or by accident into their roles, the warrior chooses his path, hardening his or her body against an anvil of arduous training. And while the success of this endeavor depends on the fortitude of the individual, the warrior rarely trains alone but in the company of comrades.
Such communal training forges bonds of unbreakable loyalty in life and in battle. Their individual names are less important than their collective identities – Amazons, Spartans, SEALs -- which spark fear in their enemies and joy in the hearts of those they are pledged to protect. The hero returns home from his challenges triumphant and becomes king or ruler of his people, reintegrated into civil society. But warriors remain as themselves, a powerful cohort, something set apart from civilian life which regards them with the twin emotions of fear and respect.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have read so many interesting fictional representations of the warrior figure this past month. It added a lot to my overall thinking about this unique character. The two stories I finally selected depicted the difficult challenges facing warriors – not in battle which for all practical purposes is their home -- but in their ambiguous relationship to the civilian world as well as their durable commitment toward each other.
In Brian Dolton’s elegantly spare story “Where the Dacouvri Died,” the focus is not on the coming battle, but the tension between the warrior’s pragmatic views of the fight and the rage-filled villager who abandons all thoughts of civility in the desire for revenge.
Photo Credit: Actress Song Wen Fei, who recently died at age 27 -- a great loss to Chinese cinema.