Recent Reviews

The Miramichi Reader

*2021 Fiction Pick*

Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases


Set in Maine in 2006, Nick Colonna is an Iraq War veteran rendered deaf in an explosion that killed two of his comrades and best friends. Repatriated back to his home in Ledgeport, Maine he refuses to have anything to do with VA services and prefers to live in his silent, solitary world. Even his girlfriend Brenda has moved on.


Nick’s most enjoyable memories are of his time on Amber Island, most recently with Brenda before he shipped out and as a child with his grandfather, who worked in the now-abandoned granite mine there. Nick purchases an old dory, fixes it up and rows out there to revisit his happier past.


Nick eventually crosses paths with Julia Fletcher … an environmental activist who wants Amber Island to remain untouched, especially as her older sister and her husband want to build a grand estate on the island for their bereaved mother and for tourist income as well, and (communicating solely by a Blackberry since Nick remains silent) … realize that they have a shared purpose in saving Amber Island from progress.


An excellent story by a mature writer, who pens a distinctive look at small-town America in the post 9/11 and Iraq War years. Silence is a Miramichi Reader “Pick” for an extraordinary book published outside Canada and written by a non-Canadian author.

— James M. Fisher

“As a veteran of the war in Iraq, I found myself back there again — and the feelings of wishing I wasn’t there and dreaming of how life will be so improved when I got back home. Carpenter places you in that space between the world we intended for ourselves and the world we are given. He walks us hand in hand with the characters as they try to let go of their hopes and dreams while moving through the grief, loss, disruption and chaos that is left when their reality suddenly changes. Through their journey, Carpenter asks the reader to ponder the meaning and cost of life and sacrifice. I highly recommend this book. It is incredibly well written and thought provoking.”

— Adam Cote, Iraq war veteran

Silence immediately put me in mind of another great American war novel, Johnny Got his Gun. Both feature young men recently home from combat, and both harness the loss of sensory perception to dramatize the veteran’s loneliness among those who have never seen war. Nick Colonna lost his hearing in an IED blast, but really he’s trapped in an opaque glass box, where he can neither see nor be seen, neither understand nor be understood. Silence, though, is about much more than the cost of conflict, and offers readers a hard, clear-eyed optimism. This is a story that demonstrates there’s no loss that can’t be redeemed by the sacred, no wound that can’t be healed, however incompletely, by reacquainting ourselves with that which is simple and pure.”  

— Ron Currie, Jr., author of God is Dead, Everything Matters!, and Flimsy, Plastic Little Miracles.

Silence of the Living

Powerful new novel takes on war and its consequences

Special to The Ellsworth American
by Carl Little, Rabkin Lifetime Achievement Award-winner


To say William Carpenter’s third novel, Silence, is a 9/11 book would be correct, but would sell it short in scope and intent. Yes, the chief protagonist Nick Colonna enlisted because of the attack on the Twin Towers, and his subsequent traumatization and hearing loss from an ambush in Iraq are the result of that patriotic act. But Silence (Islandport Press, 2021, $17.95) also is about a Maine island, Thoreau, the Red Paint People and Mohamed Atta, who flew one of the planes into the World Trade Center.


Carpenter’s writing is brisk and, like his acclaimed second novel, The Wooden Nickel, full of detail, be it the operating of a Cessna or the island’s flora and fauna. There is humor here too, if darkish: “God had the right strategy for the Middle East: a six-week downpour, then bring in a shipload of animals and start over. It would have been better than Tomahawk missiles for shock and awe.”


With echoes of such classic war writings as Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Carpenter’s novel does not hold its peace in exploring the wages and sins of our destructive nature. You might say the silence is deafening — and demanding of our better selves. 


‘Silence’ novel follows Iraq war veteran to Maine island facing conflict

News Center Maine’s 207

The latest novel by Maine author William Carpenter takes a hard look at the peace some veterans work to find when they come back from war.

“Thirty thousand people have taken their own lives, veterans,” Carpenter said. “This is astonishing, and to me, it said, ‘What is wrong with this war? What was wrong with the basis of this war, that this was happening to the people that have been in it?'”