Along The Watchtower
Double Dragon Publishing (2013)
Reviewed by M. Cristina Lanzi for Reader Views (12/13)
“Along The Watchtower” by David Litwack is a book about pain and healing. It focuses on Freddie’s long and slow recovery, giving us a glimpse of a veteran’s world.
Lieutenant Freddie Williams was critically wounded by an IED explosion in Iraq. As it often happens, the severe wounds received during the war left not only his body but also his mind damaged.
Before joining the Army, Freddie was a basketball player with promise, whose biggest dream was to hit the perfect dunk; he used to live with his family in Cape Cod and his life seemed pretty tranquil until a series of sad events affected it. Once deployed, in his early twenties, he loved to play virtual warfare video games with his mates; but by the time the story takes place we find him condemned to live with severe injuries that are both physical and psychological.
The reader understands that the psychological toll of the deployment may be incredibly high compared with the physical injuries of combat; the protagonist puts up with a challenging physical therapy, but the post-traumatic stress disorder is the hardest stumbling block to overcome.
The novel is written with incredible originality, combining two parallel plots describing the coexisting realities the protagonist is trapped into. On one side we have the rehabilitation process, the real physical pain and the agony caused by sad memories and remorse. On the other side we read about the dream world in which Freddie drifts into when sleeping; a world of fantasy, demons and magic.
In the last few years both television and literature moved towards a deep fantasy revolution and, to be honest, sometimes I found the second plot too inspired by characters and settings of famous TV shows. This is probably the only important flaw I personally found in “Along The Watchtower.”
When parallel stories have completely different scenarios, characters and development, the natural question for the reader is how those events are connected. I personally don’t prefer fantasy writing; I’m usually very skeptical about its non-realistic nature, but in this case the author never goes off the point. In “Along The Watchtower” by David Litwack, although the two subplots never intersect, they are always tightly connected thanks to a parallel subtext. David Litwack has written a simultaneously fascinating and incredibly moving novel that illustrates the ordeal of a veteran’s recovery from a horrible and indescribable wound.
“Along The Watchtower” by David Litwack paints a vivid picture of Freddie’s difficulties to recover from his wounds and open his heart, making it a great read that is tough to put down.