cover image The Innocent

The Innocent

Robert Taylor. Fithian Press, $14.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-1-56474-230-8

The plot of Taylor's pat, if admirably frank, first novel explores the experience of gay soldiers in the Vietnam War. Shortly after he realizes his sexual preference in a Washington, D.C., department store men's room, Captain Matthew Fairchild, a 26-year-old Texan, is assigned intelligence duty at Army headquarters in Saigon. Quietly battling the homophobia of his superior, Colonel Dunhill, Fairchild suffers fear and shame as a result of his moralistic upbringing by his Presbyterian grandmother and at the same time falls dangerously in love with a 24-year-old Vietnamese busboy, Tran Le Nhan. The affair and the novel reach their crises during the Tet offensive, when Fairchild learns secret information about a My Lai-type massacre. Shocked out of his previously blithe indifference, shattered by the belief that Nhan may have betrayed him, Fairchild moves from innocence to experience. Despite the novel's too many sophomoric ruminations on organized religion, mythology, patriotism, history and anthropology, readers will root for Fairchild in the midst of his moral dilemma. (Nov.)