Texas author Michael Lee Lanning’s 25th book is Dear Allyanna, An Old Soldier’s Last Letter to His Granddaughter (John M. Hardy Publishing, $18.95 paperback).
In the book, Lanning, 72, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer in 2006 and given six to eighteen months to live, offers his observations, experiences, opinions, and advice on a myriad of topics, in alphabetical order from abortion (pro-choice) to Zen.
“This letter,” he writes, “is not about my dying but rather about my living.” His primary purpose in writing the book, he said, was to leave something behind for his grandchildren, but a secondary purpose was to inspire others to leave a written legacy for their families.”
In 225 pages, Lanning covers more than 150 subjects, some in just a paragraph or two and some in several pages. A few examples, serious and trivial, whether you agree or not:
National service: “At age 18 all Americans, both men and women, should have to register for national service.” He advocates one to two years, either military or civil service, no exemptions.
Capital punishment: He opposes the death penalty, but strongly believes in life sentence without parole. “People who kill or commit heinous crimes should know that they will die in prison.”
Exclamation points: “Be extremely judicial in your use of exclamation points. Have your words show exclamation, not your punctuation.” (Hear, hear!)
Meetings: “In both your professional and personal life, you will find the greatest waste of time is in attending meetings. Mostly they merely offer the venue for the boss to sit at the head of the table and show that he or she is indeed the boss.”
Military: “Whatever its faults and failures, a strong, viable military is the one absolutely essential ingredient to the survival or our country and way of life.”
Bow ties: “Bow ties are not serious. Neither are those who wear them.” (Ouch!)
Theme parks: They’re for small children. “One of the most pitiful things in the world is a grownup wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt proclaiming Disneyland is ‘the happiest place on earth.’”
LGBT: “Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders deserve the same rights, privileges, and protections as any other citizen. No less, no more.”
Hawaiian shirts: “No Hawaiian shirt should be worn more than 12 miles inland from a major sea or ocean.” (Ouch, again.)
Baseball hats: For those who wear their hats backwards, “I strongly suspect there is little in their head under their hat — with the possible exception of baseball catchers.” (Applause.)
Gun control: “Instead of attempting to regulate guns, we should maximize the punishment against those who use them illegally.”
Obesity: “Eat less and exercise more — and the best exercise is pushing oneself away from the table.”
News: “Your generation has turned its back on the printed page, but I encourage you to take a look at your local paper for a week or so. I think you will find it informative as well as interesting — and much more focused than television and digital news.”
You can read more about Lanning’s books — most of them having to do with the Vietnam War and military history —- on his website, michaelleelanning.com.
Glenn Dromgoole’s latest book is “Book Guy: One Author’s Adventures in Publishing,” which he dedicated to his grandchildren, “so they will know.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.