Written with the grace and elegance of poetry, Syllables of Rain is the compelling story of two friends haunted by the experiences, circumstances, and choices that have shaped them. Cookie is a man trapped by his own memories; and as he struggles to cope with both grief and regret, he gradually descends into a perpetual cycle of self-destruction. His friend Llewellen is doing his best to help, but is himself tormented by memories of Jansen, a Zen Master who, many years back, left Llewellen with more questions than answers about life. He is also conflicted about his relationship with Sandy, the woman he loves. His past overshadows their present—his illusions collide with her reality—and this rift between them leads to their separation.
Both Cookie and Llewellen must eventually decide if they will be defined by their past or learn to move beyond it, even if some emotional scars are too deep to ever fully heal; even when there are no definitive answers to their many questions. There is a surreal and poetic sensibility to Syllables of Rain that is, in just the right moments, contrasted by a sober and unprotected reality. In this short novel, nothing is out of place; emotions are bottled for consumption—and through a careful balance of lyrical wording, rhythmic pacing, and meticulous detail, the scope of its themes will entice the reader to ponder questions both big and small. This story may be told through the narrow window of two men's perceptions, but it delves into a timeless internal conflict that all of us must, at some point, face, examine, and contemplate the mystery of.
"The author models his book on Japanese haibun—it’s a slim volume in a prose style full of figurative language and interspersed with haiku. This touching book has some lovely phrases ('empty-shelled neighborhoods left to be repaired') and a satisfactory resolution."
"Lliteras (Viet Man) has created a compact, emotionally charged snapshot of two soldiers trying to make sense of the world around them. Combining prose and poetry, this slim novel will leave a lasting impression on anyone who is or has known a military veteran."—Library Journal - Joy Gunn, Paseo Verde Lib., Henderson, NV
"Syllables of Rain is a brilliant work of pure genius by D. S. Lliteras . . . My favorite kind of Vietnam War book is short, poetical, and filled with hard-fought truths . . . This is that book. Distilled from the water of a career of writing books like nobody else can write, D.S. Lliteras has brought his unique genius to bear on the world of the Vietnam veteran . . . Viet Man was the gritty in-country novel, but Syllables of Rain is the poetic novel of a lifetime of coping with war, of struggling to make peace with Vietnam . . . I'd thought that D.S. Lliteras' previous book, Viet Man, was untoppable, but I was wrong. His new book did the trick and more besides."—The VVA Veteran
"D.S. Lliteras' approach in this brave new novel is both very Miles (as in Davis) and also very Kerouac (as in the Beat Generation novel The Dharma Bums). Syllables of Rain is a book that delivers what is most artful and true in Lliteras' writing."—The MacWire (TMW) Worthy Entertainment & Celebrity News
“This is a story about two Vietnam veterans . . . it is a story about a spiritual journey that is very real, as it is based in experiences shared by many people in this country. What is most stunning about this book, however, is the style. It is simple, approachable, bittersweet and poetic . . . [Syllables of Rain] touches your heart, expands your empathy and inspires you to go on, no matter the odds.”—The Echo World--The Alternative Newspaper for Spiritual and Cultural Creatives - Reviews ("All Things Alternative"), Jan. 2018, vol. 22, no. 1, by Michael Peter Langevin
"A short, poetic, cerebral novel . . . [author] Lliteras provides an after-action report on another damaging consequence of combat: alcoholism . . . [Syllables of Rain] is a tripwire-taut account of two tough combat vets and their troubled attempts at re-entry into civilization. Shakespeare called upon a muse of fire to describe the boil of war; Lliteras invokes the counterpoint of Zen to come back from it . . . an epiphany of sorts . . . wounded eagle or fallen angel, this raging writer stubbornly remains his brother's keeper."—The Virginian-Pilot - Bill Ruehlmann
"Syllables of Rain is both subtly jarring and comforting in nature. The imagery evoked by [author] Lliteras—by combining his emotionally charged, yet succinct prose with impactful haiku—leaves the reader wanting more, but fulfilled just the same . . . D.S. Lliteras skillfully takes us on a poignant journey with a gratifying conclusion in this unconventional novel. I recommend Syllables of Rain wholeheartedly."—Military Writers Society of America Dispatches (MWSA) - Sandi Linhart
"Navy Corpsman and Marine Corps League Member D. S. Lliteras uses a Japanese-style of writing called 'haibun' to express the journey of two combat veterans who struggle living life after war . . . offers a glimpse of the struggle many [veterans] seek to overcome. Many veterans do not find a way to deal with the struggle and a glimmer of hope can mean a great deal. This is an easy read with direct and eloquent text."—SEMPER FI (The Magazine of the Marine Corps League) - Vol. 74, No. 2, Spring 2018
"An inherently compelling and fully engaging read from beginning to end, [MBR'S Internet Bookwatch] reviews novelist D.S. Lliteras as having a genuine flair for originality, deftly crafted characters, and a distinctively poetic style of storytelling. The result is a novel that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf . . . very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections."—Midwest Book Review ("Internet Bookwatch")
"[A] sparse yet vital new novel from acclaimed writer and returning Vietnam vet D. S. Lliteras . . . Syllables of Rain attempts and achieves something far richer than yet another war story. The book is itself a survivor of the Viet Nam War—a starkly soulful testament to grief and renewal possessed of deep yet airy nuance, and a shadow world of unspoken rage and unseen thought. A carefully provocative stylist, Lliteras ups his game in this new work by marrying his prose with short etches of Zen-drenched poetry presented at the end of each short chapter in the Japanese 'haibun' style most akin to haiku. Less is certainly more throughout, as the short poems serve to exemplify and sometimes contradict what characters say and do across each smooth chapter.
There is also a great amount of poetry in the prose as well. Seemingly simple, even mundane, words like 'okay,' 'alright,' 'yes,' and 'no' are repeated both in dialogue and description throughout the book in a way that feels more like rich incantation than bored repetition. In a subtly earned way, this hypnotically spare novel of only 176 pages stands as the mirror opposite of protagonist Leopold Bloom's single day evoke over more than 700 pages in James Joyce's 1920s classic Ulysses. Both books can be said to be about heroes—and both books are heroic in each authors' style and method . . . how lucky we are that this small miracle of a book has been put down on the written page."—Literary Heist
"Unique . . . a very poignant tale with poetic overtones that deepen the reflections the readers are faced: the meaning of our existence and beyond."—A Nature's Path (UK blog)
"[A] tight, poetic, daring little book that offers ample dialogue and sparse prose, punctuated with zen-like koans in the style of the Japanese haibun . . . Lliteras has attempted that rarest of all things literary: a hybrid of poetry and prose in the service of a higher good. Lliteras aims for the stars and delivers, if not the moon, then a compelling, workmanlike journey into the fog of war, and the moral compass of return to the things we love and hold dear. A tale of camaraderie and survival in the face of misery and woe, told like a whisper with the power of a bomb, Syllables of Rain feels like a dream and reads like a prayer."—The Antioch Review (Summer 2019) - Jefferson Adams