He applied to be part of a science team. He was assigned to do logistics support and was given the title resident herpetologist. That was 1994.
“I was in a remote area of Vietnam, near Laos,” Paul Haeder said. “We were helping the Vietnamese government with a large biodiversity study. Man, bats, living in bat caves and looking for tiger scat, then these amazing hikes deep into forest and jungle. What came out of that were several thousand slides and photos, a reconnecting with my army officer father (in spirit) who was in this country 25 years earlier fighting against the Vietnamese.”
A short fiction book also grew from months in jungle/forest and months traveling through Vietnam. Haeder’s short story collection, “Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam,” is a compilation of stories that come from the earth — from that unethical war the U.S. launched against the Vietnamese people.
“His characters will chew and spit out readers if they let their guard down,” states novelist James Crumley (Dancing Bear, “The Last Good Kiss”) in the opening page of this story collection.
The coming out party was set for March and April. Library readings in Lincoln County, bookstore appearances in Portland, Seattle and Spokane and a huge writing conference and book trade show were set.
Then came COVID-19 and lockdowns.
This Friday, July 31, Haeder will be reading from the book via Zoom. It’s not one of Haeder’s favorite venues, but he knows he has to get the book’s release publicized somehow.
“Look, we can huff and puff on Zoom,” Haeder said, “but we have to fight hard to stop the delimiting and stagnant mentality of complete lockdown. Zoom is more than a crutch. It is colonization of people into the digital matrix. We have to be very careful in the coming months.”
He will be in his Waldport home, online, for this 7 p.m. event, leading off the reading with other readers in the lineup.
This is put on by the literary company that published Haeder’s book in February. Cirque Press started off as an Alaskan journal, Cirque. The journal also celebrates a decade this Friday.
“We will be launching Paul Haeder’s beautiful book, ‘Wide Open Eyes,’” Sandy Kleven, co-editor, said.
The book is fiction, though many have told Haeder, “there’s a lot of you in those pieces … you the journalist.”
A link to Haeder’s book can be found at cirquejournal.com/book/wide-open-eyes-by-paul-kirk-haeder.
To access the 7 p.m. Friday meeting via Zoom, go to us02web.zoom.us/j/86057207353.