Alto Pass author Martin J. "Marty" McMorrow will keep busy in the upcoming weekend with two book signings for his new novel, "Phoenix to LA." The subtitle, "A true story of one young man's journey out of the 1960's." says a lot about the narrative.
McMorrow will be among local authors featured Saturday, June 5, at The Marion Bookworm in Illinois Centre. He'll be signing copies from 6 to 8 p.m.
And from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 6, he will be at the Union County Museum in downtown Cobden. At 2:30 p.m., he will make a brief presentation and answer questions. He said he's really looking forward to discussing the book, much of which is based on his experiences traveling across the country in the tumultuous 1960s and serving in the Army in 1971, treating soldiers who had become addicted to heroin in Vietnam.
"Actually, I intended the book to stir memories and encourage those who remember to share their experiences with the ‘younger generation,' rather than keep them a secret any longer. It was an amazing time, amazing things happened. Some of them may have relevance with respect to our troops who are serving in the poppy capital of the world," McMorrow said.
When he was serving, "The Army offered a drug amnesty program," offering confidential counseling to those who would come forward and admit their addiction, McMorrow said. "Heroin was easily accessible in Vietnam," and many GIs became addicted, he said. Some overdosed; others were killed in action because their physical abilities and judgment were impaired by their drug use.
Yet many were able to overcome their addiction with help, he recalled. Years later, he visited the wall bearing the names of all military personnel who died in Vietnam and found the name of only one of those he had treated for their addiction.
He's found that some veterans who initially didn't want to talk about their service now are ready to talk about it.
After his military service, McMorrow earned a master's degree in behavior analysis and therapy from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and has spent the last 39 years working with people considered mentally ill or brain damaged.
The book is by no means his first; he has written several specialty books in his profession, as well as more than 60 professional papers. In his spare time, McMorrow plays guitar in local band Blue Afternoon, collects antiques, watches stock car races, and does his best to keep his old tractors running. And he's already planning at least two more books.
"Phoenix to LA" costs $17.95. The book is available at The Bookworm in Marion and Carbondale, at the Union County Museum, Yellow Moon Cafe and anthill gallery in Cobden, as well as on most bookseller websites including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and booklocker.com.