Dogs Don’t Cook
Independently Published (2021)
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (5/2022)
“Why has Tom Hatchfield survived the atrocities of war? Why him and not the others who never came home? And what about the over four thousand Vietnam villagers, many of them children, who were killed or maimed by stray bombardments in Khe Sanh? Hatch never had the protective armor to shield his psyche from collateral damage.” – pg. 256
“Dogs Don’t Cook” by Catherine Alexander is a fresh take on life well past the Vietnam war, the toll it’s had on veterans, and the cost that has come from both the health hazards and the drinking. And yet, there is still beauty. Beauty in how life can turn around when just one person believes in you and takes you under their wing.
Spanning three months, “Dogs Don’t Cook” is the story of Thomas Hatchfield, Vietnam vet and most recently a drunk on the verge of death and a newly minted driving-under-the-influence (DUI) charge. In three short months, or some 250 pages, readers witness not only the ravages war can have on someone decades later but also the power of belief. Just one person believing in Hatch, as Tom Hatchfield prefers to be called. Against all odds, belief and support are enough to turn one’s life around.
Many decades after failing art school, surviving the war, being a career alcoholic and traipsing around Seattle, Hatch is at the point of death. An unfortunately accurate scenario for too many of our vets, Vietnam and otherwise. Author Catherine Alexander paints an all too realistic picture of the horrors of war, the atrocities of the system and the strained relationships with family, all while showing readers the beauty and mundane life of Seattle.
As this story picks up, Hatch is at the end of his alcoholic career. Having been told he will die and being stuck with a DUI charge, he is forced to wake up to life. As such, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and much of the governmental system are on display here, showing readers the stresses, misunderstandings and frustration that can push tottering alcoholics back into their old ways. “Dogs Don’t Cook” is an eye opening, fictional account that successfully portrays the many aspects surrounding the struggle, including the failures and triggers that can cause the loosely dedicated to falter.
An oddly endearing cast of Rosa, Hatch, Bud, and even Tess and Blue, “Dogs Don’t Cook” is heartbreaking, heartwarming, and most of all thought provoking. A tangled love story of art, friendship, and survival. Billed as historical fiction, this brilliant page turner transports readers from the battlefield of Khe Sanh to the heart of Seattle.