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Punxsutawney, PA 15767
Telephone: (703) 870-9611
Detailed Book Review
The Last of One         
The Last of One
By Stephan Solberg
ISBN: 978-1-929763-46-7
Price: $14.95
Shipping: $4.00
Stephan Solberg’s The Last of One is a tale of epic and intimate human conflicts. Covering a span of some ninety years, it’s a story of relationships and love, growing up, and growing old. Two first-person narrators tell the tale; Tom, the young man, and the veteran, Dan. Tom has known Dan all his life, as he grew up down the street from the mysterious Methuselah who worked at the city park. As an adult, Tom cares for Dan through a volunteer elder care program and he begins to discover that “the old walkin’ man” has more secrets than he ever imagined. Thus begins the narrative journey of this centenarian, from falling in love with his teacher, running away to war, meeting Ernest Hemingway, to fighting horrific battles, and even “dying.”

Nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

The Last of One is also available as an ebook on Amazon.com for the Kindle.

Book Review Details:
Reviewed Appeared In: Beacon-News Online
Reviewed By: Marissa Amoni
Text Of Review: In a soldier's words
WWI veteran's diary comes to life in Auroran's first book

Editor's note: Life experience, a calling from God and other authors' works all have inspired several local residents not just to write their own material but to get their work published as well. In a multi-part series, we are sharing these local authors' stories about what it took to get published and where they are today.

Stephan Steve Solberg never met his Great Uncle Percy, yet he was inspired by his story -- a story that Percy never had a chance to tell, except for some condensed remarks in a pocket-size diary.

The Last of One is based on diary entries written by Stephen Solberg's Great Uncle Percy, who died of battle wounds while fighting in World War I. Solberg chose the "quintessential small river town" of Batavia as the 140-page novel's setting.

The Aurora resident was intrigued after his sister shared with him their great uncle's nearly illegible accounts of World War I. Solberg read the letters along with pencil marked entries in a very small diary.

His great uncle's short time in the war fascinated him, and he knew it could make a great story.

"I immediately thought of the last surviving veteran of World War I," Solberg said of the impetus of his recently release book, The Last of One. He based the 140-page novel on the idea of one remaining veteran telling his story -- something that his great uncle was unable to do since he died in 1918 from battle wounds.

Instead, Solberg created Dan, a 110-year-old Marine veteran, to recount the horrific war to Tom, a young neighbor. Dan and Tom reside in the Pigeon Hill neighborhood, just as Solberg has in real life for 30 years, except the neighborhood in the book is in the "quintessential small river town" of Batavia.

"My intention was for this to be a Fox Valley story with a greater Midwest feel," Solberg said. Solberg renames Aurora's Garfield Park "Pigeon Hill Park" and uses it to connect the book's two main characters.

In the eyes of Tom, the other protagonist, Dan has always been the old man who worked at the park down the street. But Tom gains a new realization when in his 20s he starts caring for Dan through a volunteer elder care program. Dan tells him about his life and adventures in the war, Solberg said.

"It is part war story, love story and family mystery," said Solberg, 49. The Last of One is his first published novel. Prior to his author status, Solberg dabbled in horticulture, park service and real estate.

Solberg is also a freelance artist and illustrated the book cover. His wife, Victoria Everitt, helped edit the book.

"It's my first book, so I'm pretty happy about it," he said. Solberg finished the book in less than a year and sent it to several publishers upon completion. "When it comes to publishing, I don't believe in wasting time. I just sent it out," he said.

He got the green light from Pocol Press, a small publisher in Virginia, and went with it, he said. The book is available through the publisher and Amazon.com.

Great Uncle Percy's diary was small and vague, but the concise reports of daily life in World War I were just enough to spark Solberg's imagination. He wrote as if his great uncle had lived and moved to the Fox Valley. Then Solberg filled in the blanks of the war memories.

"(The war) was very fascinating. I was able to do a lot of research on WWI. It was so horrific," he said.

Solberg recently attended the 20th Anniversary Writers Conference in Rosemont. He is looking into local book signings and engagements. The book is expected to be available at Old Towne Books & Tea in Oswego soon, Solberg said.

Date Reviewed: May 14, 2010
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