Out is the fictional story of a mostly-Native, 24-year-old, poet who returns home from two tours of duty in Iraq believing that the novel he carried with him across the
ocean and desert (One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez) saved his life. He–Jefferson Long Soldier–borrows his cousin’s motorcycle and rides to Mexico City to find the great writer. It is a story of one soldier beginning to heal. Of one soldier who lives to tell his story.
The novel was inspired by a student of mine at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) who was the first veteran of Iraq I ever met. That student’s name was Reuben Santos and he changed any previous stereotypical notions I may have had of veterans. In the end, Reuben lost his battle with war memories, taking his own life. When I discovered this news, I had already been writing the novel for two years and, of course, was devastated. Eventually, though, I found a way through the darkness, and a new mission for my novel. This was to write the story of a soldier who begins to see light in his darkness. This was to write a story of one veteran’s intense personal efforts to begin to heal.