Colorado Mandala by Brian Heffron is “Tender, moving, honest, and real” 4 Stars

Posted: August 29, 2013 in book reviews

colorado mandala brian heffronBrian Heffron, already known for his handmade poetry chapbook “Sustain me with Your Breath” has created an inspiring, honest, and real experience for readers with his “Colorado Mandala”. This tale is told with tender care from Paul’s POV, who seems to be a bit lost in the world around him, but functioning, productive, caring, trying to work and live life, and moving on after his war experience. Supportive of his closest and dearest friend Michael, who seems to be tormented, self-destructive, and lost, he is not surprised when he reads a journal entry that positively sheds light on why Michael behaves the way he does and how connected he is with Sara in a way that he never wants her to know.

PTSD is represented in a very real way in this novel. Today we see PTSD as a recognized condition. In the time period that the story takes place, there would have been little or no knowledge of what it was or why or how to deal with it and that, in and of itself, was a huge problem for Veterans in this time period. The reader definitely gets a bird’s eye view of what life would have been like for the average male in that time frame and how very different war and the resulting PTSD can affect people. Paul and Michael were both definitely affected by their time in the service, but in very different ways due to having had different experiences.

As Michael and Paul both move through the story, I had a sense that the world was moving around them and they were both trying to figure out how to fit in it after their experiences in the Vietnam War changed them forever. The location and events around them were vividly described so that this south-eastern mountain girl could almost feel the heat radiating up from the desert sands and the brilliance of the stars at night over the terrain.

From an editorial perspective, I found the book moved along at a nice pace but then ended too soon. The character development could have been more thorough. I would have preferred a bit more description about their physical appearance and characteristics to be able to “see” them more clearly while I read. There were many proofreading errors as well, including repetitive words, transposed words, and punctuation errors (especially serial commas) that caused me to stumble as I read.

Despite the proofreading errors, my comments on the editorial perspective are subjective and somewhat influenced by simply wanting the book not to end when it did. That can certainly be attributed to the writer having endeared these characters to me and peaking my interest in the events around them with his skill and obvious passion for the story.

I would definitely recommend this book.

About the Author:

Brian Heffron’s work of literary fiction mines the complex landscape of 1970s post-Vietnam America to chart the love triangle of a former Green Beret, his lover, and a young wanderer in Colorado. A former writer/producer/director for PBS, Brian Heffron’s passion for adventure first took him to sea as a sailor, delivery skipper, and celestial navigator on a trans-Atlantic passage. He is an established national poet and this novel distills his poetic sensibility Colorado Mandala into a  deeply lyrical work of fiction. You can learn more about Brian here: and you can purchase this novel by clicking on the cover image where you will be directed to the Amazon page.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>Debra L Hartmann, Author, Host of the Talk Radio with NO Radio show, and Professional Editor at


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