The Last Mule in Sunrise
by Buck Rish, MD
Ethan Vardaman was sixteen when his family moved to Chalaka, Alabama, in the deep South during the last decade of Jim Crow when racial strife was rampant. During these years of maturation, Ethan fell in love with Oui, a beautiful racially-mixed girl. After high school he left Alabama for college and medical school. Oui continued to work and go to nursing school before progressing to college and medical school. The two lovers had several chance encounters during these years, and each time their love would flare anew before being slammed back into reality. Finally in Vietnam a commitment was made, but tragedy ensued.
The mule, that poignant picture of perseverance in the South is the portent throughout the story.
This, the author’s third novel, is written from the convictions of the author’s experience. He is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Medical School and the neurosurgery residency of Vanderbilt University. After a naval career that included service in Vietnam aboard the hospital ship USS Repose and at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, he entered private practice in Norfolk, Virginia, and continued his teaching and research career as Professor of Clinical Neurosurgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School and consultant for the Head and Spinal Cord Injury Study at the National Institutes of Health. Now retired in Chocowinity, North Carolina, his writing transcends the too often impersonal world of medicine with a graphic and verisimilar style while revealing the realism and compassion of a physician.
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