Shooting An Albatross by Steven R. Lundin

albatrossReviewed by Chris Phillips

This is historical fiction, in the sense that the main action of the book takes place in 1943. The world is at war. Everyone is gearing up to fight, and it feels like the fight of a lifetime. Due to circumstances only the Army can ascertain, the 107th Artillery is bivouacked at the El Rancho Golf Course in Los Angeles, CA. After staying there for just over two months they are reassigned, and eventually are involved in the Normandy Invasion. Those are the facts.

Lundin takes those facts and spins a tale about golf, about love, about jealousy and about revenge. He explains the title and in the process a lot about golf, not just as a sport, but as a philosophy and a pastime. Even if golf is an unknown, the reader cannot help but get caught up in the tale and the exquisite narrative of the author.

“The sounds are those that come without man, such as leaves rustling, birds singing, woodpeckers knocking, squirrels chattering, naturally-pruned twigs hitting the ground and little flying things flapping and buzzing in the air.”

“By the end of the first three holes, the big men had made so many hard bangs on the ground that they appeared to be knocking seismic energy into the earth—energy that would return in the future and rumble Los Angeles.”

These two quotes illustrate Lundin’s narrative style and explain what seems to be the most captivating aspect of the book. The illusions, the descriptions, and the narrative far outweigh the light characterization and two-dimensional figures in the book.

Finally the introduction and the book are tied together in the end, but as the author states through one of the main characters in the last paragraph.

“As I returned the journal to the shelf by slipping it between two dusty notebooks, I was stopped by the unexpected words scrawled on the corner of her next journal. I removed it from the shelf, sat and read in the library until the earliest hours of the morning. When I left home the next day, I went on my way to shoot one last albatross.”

There is a dissatisfied quality for the characters and finally for the reader. Somehow there should be more.

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