My rating: 3 of 5 stars
From his author page, we read: “Roger Pulvers is an author, playwright, theater director, and translator. He has published more than forty-five books in English and Japanese, including novels, essays, plays, and poetry. He also translates works from Japanese, Russian, and Polish.”
With a résumé like that, you would expect some good work, or at least fair writing. But reading Star Sand is like going through something that was written by a real novice. I did not know the author’s credentials as I was reading his book; I found it at the end on the “about the author” section.
Having just finished Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby before reading this book, I was glad for the change of pace. The story isn’t long and doesn’t have Dickens’ irritating knack for going on and on. Star Sand is told in three parts: the first during WW2; the second, which is very short, in the 1950’s; and the last section in the 2000’s.
The WW2 part is told through a diary of a sixteen-year-old Japanese American girl who is helping two deserters, one Japanese and the other American. This was getting to the point of being boring due to its repetitious nature of her activities, but thankfully, that is when the section came to an end. The two deserters hole up in a cave on a small island that was far enough removed from the war for it to be a safe haven, though the men could not venture far from the cave for fear of being caught and executed. The girl is there for the relative safety of the place as well.
The story does a pretty good job of showing the absurdity of war, the hating and killing of other humans just because they live on the other side of a line at the orders from some person who says you should. The girl being Japanese American serves well as a symbol of the fact that we are, after all, humans on the planet earth, not just residents of one particular country. I realize most people don’t take a larger world view of things and prefer to look at themselves and others through the lens of nationalism. But there are those that feel like Albert Einstein, who said, “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” And during war, mankind’s measles comes on at its worst.
I wish Roger Pulvers would have written a more powerful short story, but his ineptitude leaves us with only a fair one that lacks suspense and, most of all, emotion. I give it three stars because he attempted a worthy subject in what could have been an interesting way and because he kept it short.