R. Karlen grew up in Newark, NJ. After graduating from dental
school, he enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed in South
Korea and Japan for three years. Upon completion of his tour of
duty, he returned to New Jersey where he practiced dentistry in
Newark for thirty-five years until he retired and launched a new
career as an author. He currently lives in Scotch Plains, NJ
with his wife, daughter, son and grandson.
Karlen’s eighth work of fiction, DEVIL’S DANCE REDUX, will be
published by Ironbound Press in the fall of 2007.
The story of
Yung Sook first began to germinate in my mind during the Vietnam
War. Strongly opposed to the war, I felt a need to make a
statement expressing my horror at the devastating consequences
of modern weaponry unleashed against defenseless human beings.
I spent a year in Korea while an Air Force dentist and using
that experience attempted a novella in which I tried to bring
that horror into the sort of perspective that good fiction can
best accomplish. I believe that given what happened in Korea, in
Vietnam, and at the present time in Iraq and Afghanistan, a
writer needed only to explore the nuances of each culture, then
change names and locales, and the stories of the nightmarish
aftermaths of war remain fundamentally the same. The unfinished
novella languished in my filing cabinet for thirty-five years
until I revived it and made it the basis for “Yung Sook,” which
should be a reminder to writers, young and old, to save
everything. One never knows when an old idea can be resurrected
and give impetus to a new and original work.