John Mulligan was born in Kirkintilloch, Scotland in 1950 into a family of 10 children. After his family emigrated to the US, Mulligan enlisted in the Air Force. Within weeks of turning 18 and while still a British citizen, he was on his way to combat in Vietnam. On his return to San Francisco, he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and was homeless for more than ten years. During his recovery from alcoholism in a veterans workshop, his extraordinary writing talent was discovered. In SHOPPING CART SOLDIERS, Mulligan's autobiographical detail provides the basis for this story of a Vietnam Vet's long, agonizing reorganisation of the fragments of his war torn psyche. This is the story of Finn, a man who survives the nightmares of Vietnam's jungles, only to be tortured on his return by the horrifying acts he has witnessed which have shattered his heart and mind. Through the hells of addiction, homelessness and struggle, Finn slowly begins to rebuild his life and reclaim his soul. Simultaneously shocking and hopeful, SHOPPING CART SOLDIERS is an odyssey to the heart of war and its appalling aftermath.
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(203mm x 127mm x 14mm)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Autobiographical detail provides potent fuel for this uncommon saga of a Vietnam vet's long, agonizing reorganization of the fragments of his war-torn psyche - a moving first novel from San Francisco - based Mulligan. The trials of Finn are only beginning when his tour in Vietnam ends and he's dumped back in the States to fend for himself. His family having emigrated from Scotland just in time for him to be drafted, Finn went to war with even less reason for being there than his fellow grunts - and quickly lost his grip after witnessing the senseless slaughter of a magnificent white bull, then having to fulfill a blood pact with his closest friend, who was wounded in an ambush. Soulless, Finn comes home to wife and child, but his alcoholism drives them away, and he spends 12 years homeless, pushing a shopping cart and sleeping in a park along with other vets. His condition deteriorates almost to the point of no return, but his soul/anima (which he calls "Madman") has stuck close in hopes of making him whole again; in a series of magical transformations set in motion by his strong sense of Celtic identity - and aided by the unlikely figure of Robert Louis Stevenson - Finn slowly accepts Madman, along with the more unsavory part of himself he calls "Redeyes." His friends who died in Vietnam, and whose bloody ghosts have long tormented him, are finally laid to rest along with his addiction, allowing him to return to Scotland to prove himself worthy of his heritage. The heroic recovery here is as much personal triumph as reminder of a national shame. Mulligan's fine telling of the story ought to help open a door of hope for others who may have been destroyed like Finn and are still left behind. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - John Mulligan
John Mulligan was born in Scotland but emigrated to the US where he was sent to serve in the Vietnam War. He is now an author and playwright.