Letters to Evelyn

Poetry - Inspirational
261 Pages
Reviewed on 06/14/2024
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Author Biography

I was a navy pilot who followed my dreams of serving the United States in any way I could. In my tertiary education, I was the top student scholastically in my NROTC class. And with my German language and Literature degree and 2 academic minors, I chose to fly airplanes and helicopters for the navy. My flight time has been spent in 10 different types of aircraft and I presently have 1 world record flying them, and I have a Northeast human endurance record from the time I spent visiting with my biological father and his former wife. My world record is for the steepest, highest Sarajevo Approach with the lowest recovery in a T-34C. I flew from 6000 feet down to five feet above the treetops onto Eglin AFB with a sustained and extended eighty-three degree nose down attitude on the dive and with maximum allowable aeronautical gravity uniformily almost exceeded on the wings and tail on the recovery. My U.S. Northeast record is for the longest time spent with no sleep, greater than 12 days once being poisoned with food after psychological threats against me. Notwithstanding these setbacks, I still graduated from University education, and still had managed to fly navy planes. These clear reminisions are perfectly assembled into one volume that I will be using in a court of law against criminals.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman is an extraordinary memoir that transcends the boundaries of traditional storytelling, weaving together themes of love, trauma, redemption, and cosmic exploration. Selman's narrative unfolds through a series of letters, poems, and reflections that offer a deeply personal and emotionally resonant journey. At its core, Letters to Evelyn is a love letter to the titular character, Evelyn, but it's also a love letter to humanity and the universe itself. Selman's lyrical prose and vivid imagery create a rich tapestry of experiences, from his formative years as a Navy pilot to his encounters with extraterrestrial beings. The book opens with a poignant poem that sets the tone for the rest of the narrative, expressing a profound yearning for connection and understanding. Selman's exploration of celestial friendship and universal goodwill is a powerful backdrop for the deeply personal stories in this spellbinding memoir.

Selman reflects on his tumultuous upbringing, including his experiences with abuse and trauma. His candid and raw descriptions of these events highlight the power of storytelling and his journey to seek understanding and reconciliation. One of the most compelling chapters delves into Selman's encounter with a high-ranking naval officer who imposes bizarre and unsettling requests, testing Selman's integrity and moral convictions. This scene masterfully explores power dynamics, obedience, and personal ethics within military life. As the narrative unfolds, John Selman struggles with his identity and place in the world, culminating in a meaningful encounter with an extraterrestrial spacecraft. This speculative twist augments the complexity of the story. Letters to Evelyn is a captivating and thought-provoking memoir that defies genre conventions and offers a unique exploration of love, trauma, and cosmic exploration. I thought, “WOW, is it all true?” at the end of the narrative. The lyrical prose, the extraordinary experiences, and the exceptional storytelling are aspects of this memoir that make it everything any reader will enjoy.

Ruffina Oserio

Lyrical and utterly engaging, Letters to Evelyn by John Selman is a romance that follows the journey of John Selman, born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1976, a man with a singular admiration for his father, a Naval Aviator and an airline pilot, and a man in whose footsteps he wants to follow. He is particularly fascinated by his father’s bombing missions in the Vietnam campaign. He is accepted in the Navy ROTC, but things are not what they always seem to be. He experiences stress, has to learn to be a Navy pilot, but in his journey to becoming like his father, there is the love of a woman, a woman who has been there in his mind at the critical moments of the decisions he has made. Follow a love story with strong biblical underpinnings and elements of a memoir and discover the fun, at times disturbing experiences of the protagonist, experiences that include an encounter with extraterrestrial beings.

This isn’t a typical romance as the author brings into the writing different and powerful elements of style. The narrative voice is confident and strong and I enjoyed the use of the first-person narrative and the richness that the epistolary style brings into the narrative. In fact, it opens with a letter that defines the path the story takes: “I’m so sorry for everything. I understand this whole thing might be a mistake, but here is my letter, the letter I wanted to send to you the moment you touched my hands, and it is the long version. I am only writing to you in hope that you find me in your heart someday and say hello to me sometime in the future.” John Selman tells his story with humor and shares experiences that transcend the ordinariness in life to offer powerful glimpses into what happens when we take a step into the unknown.

Rabia Tanveer

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman is a romance novel that is part confession and part the life story of the author. Letters to Evelyn is exactly that, a letter to his love in which he shares his experiences to try to woo her. The story begins as John talks about how his father was a huge influence on him, how dashing and powerful his father was when he flew his plane. Since then, he wanted to be just like his father and so he went on to follow in his footsteps and joined the Navy ROTC. Little did he realize that this would be the start of a journey he would call life. From learning to fly, becoming a Navy pilot, going to war and falling in love, he lives his life to its fullest potential and shares it with others.

This is such a unique and wonderfully woven story that had me riveted from the moment I started reading it. John is such a complex character; he seems real because the author based him on himself. You can feel the integrity of the author and feel how much emotion he put into this. The narrative was smooth, fast-paced and exceptionally well-written. What I enjoyed the most was how unapologetic and open he is about his story and how he tells it. He is very straightforward, even when he is talking about mysterious happenings in his life. He kept the tension; he allowed it to simmer and made sure that the reader was right beside him as he retold his life story. Enjoyable and relatable.

Lesley Jones

From a young age, John Selman knew there was more to life than what his senses could see, touch and hear. Follow his amazing life experiences as he strives to follow in his father's footsteps into aviation whilst trying to find love and a sense of belonging. A heart-touching love story with intriguing threads of fantasy and science fiction woven throughout. John is witness to many extraterrestrial encounters and premonitions throughout his life, which makes him of considerable interest to those who meet him. Sometimes his gift is an advantage, giving him the upper hand, but other times it is a curse that causes him to feel like an outsider. As John's search for love continues, the story will take a surprising turn, mixing reality with science fiction and a biblical tale. When John eventually finds love, it is with someone he never imagined possible.

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman is an extraordinary book with a unique plot that captivated me from the first chapter. The author takes quite horrific and disturbing events and turns them into great learning experiences. The events in the book are depicted so well and I loved the references to real-life events, such as the Vietnam War and the World Trade Center. Each of the characters, even the minor ones, have been portrayed with care and consideration. I could visualize every one of them. I found Jona especially dark and disturbing. The dialogue was sharp, realistic and revealed the character's personality perfectly. The author's imagination is off the charts. I did not think a novel combining science fiction, romance, and biblical characters could be achieved, but the author has created a story that you will never forget. Letters To Evelyn will never lose your interest and never fail to deliver on tension, excitement and even hints of comedy.

Alma Boucher

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman will give the reader a look at the 12.5 years of John's life from December 1999 through the middle of 2012. John Jackson Selman grew up in Brunswick from the age of four and was an only child. John’s grandfather was a JAG officer, and his father was a naval officer. It was a family tradition to be an officer in the military, and it was John’s dream to become an aircraft carrier pilot like his father. John’s experience was different from that of other officers. John’s contact with unworldly events made him a person of great interest to whoever came into contact with him. John’s gift sometimes worked in his favor, but it was also a curse that made him feel alone until he fell in love with Evelyn Tuskegee.

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman is fascinating. It was a roller coaster ride of romance, paranormal, science fiction, and reality. Fiction and reality were intertwined in this love story, and at times it was difficult to distinguish between them. I was captivated from the start, and the plot held my attention throughout the story. The events were descriptive, and it was easy to visualize them. The characters were well-developed and unique. Each character was introduced with his background, and I got to know them. They were authentic and relatable. John’s search for love and finding it was exciting, and I enjoyed that. The story was well-written and unusual, with a fitting ending. This story will stay with me for a long time.

Munir Muhammad

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman combines personal reminiscences, romance, and science fiction. It is an unusual and interesting memoir that takes readers with the author on his journey. Inspired by his father, he was accepted into the Navy ROTC while also seeking love and a sense of belonging. The account follows John as he describes his life from childhood to adulthood. He shares his experiences of flying, war, love, and otherworldly exploration along the way. This is a heartfelt message in which John expresses his love for Evelyn and describes his exploits and progress through life. His letters outline his family background, where he comes from, and how he fell in love. He shares his feelings openly and he doesn't seem to be concerned about scaring Evelyn. His letters are honest and show his true self, whether good or bad.

The writing in Letters to Evelyn is clear, concise, and engaging. John Selman has a gift for capturing the reader's attention. The book is also full of beautiful imagery, which helps bring the story to life. I liked the use of the first-person narrative and the depth that the writing style adds. The approach is strong and confident as it begins with a letter that sets the tone for the rest of the story. The author explores some awkward and complex issues, such as real-life events in the Vietnam War. However, he handles these topics with sensitivity and insight, and he never shies away from the truth. This is a touching and mesmerizing book that will have a lasting impact on you even after you are finished with it. It is a story about love, sadness, and looking for purpose in life. If you want a book that will make you think and is challenging, I suggest this work which combines fact and fantasy.

Adanna Ora

John Jackson Selman was a naval pilot who was born in New Mexico. After his parents divorced when he was aged 4, he stayed with his stepmother Lauren, who mistreated him. As an adult working in the Navy, John was poisoned by his stepmother. Following that incident, his life was never the same. He experienced hallucinations, which affected his work and relationship with his colleagues. He was also referred to as the biblical Jesus, a description that he strongly resisted. The most remarkable effect of his hallucinations was the development of a love interest called Evelyn. John believed that there was a soulmate out there for him named Evelyn and imagined he everything that she would be. Would he ever find her, or was she just a figment of his imagination? Find out in Letters to Evelyn by John Selman.

Letters to Evelyn includes a beautifully composed poem dedicated to Evelyn and an account of John’s life, which is narrated engagingly. John Selman introduces us to the wonderful world of flying and gives us an idea of how a plane is piloted. This memoir reflects the pain of betrayal, conspiracy, and the wickedness of people in great measure. It also shows the effort the author made to get back on his feet and move on despite many disappointments. Another important point to be taken from the book is the frequent disregard for mental health issues and the need to take them more seriously. The account is narrated in a captivating and suspense-filled manner. It also incorporates words that can improve one’s vocabulary and teach great life lessons. I recommend this combination of experience, romance, and fantasy to lovers of good books.

Luwi Nyakansaila

John Selman begins his memoir, Letters to Evelyn, with a heartfelt apology to Evelyn. But who is Evelyn, and why is he apologizing? In this book, the author answers these questions. He narrates the gruesome event before going to flight school that caused him to experience premonitions and hallucinations, eventually leading him to Evelyn. For ten months, John did not tell anyone he was struggling to hold on to reality and living in an alternative world filled with aliens, God, and people who call him Jesus. John’s only desires were to become a jet pilot, find a woman who would accept him and his past experiences, and world peace. So, he fought for what he wanted, but did he succeed?

Letters to Evelyn is a memorable book with an intense storyline. The story sucks you in and grabs your attention right from the start. John Selman’s account of events took me on a crazy ride. He blends elements of reality and fiction. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze everything he says. Even in his lucid state, he discusses racism, bullying, service to the country, and wealth inequality. He is well-spoken and delivers moving speeches that will make you see the world differently. Throughout the book, his decision not to tell anyone about his hallucinations and his desire to complete his education was a consistent mantra. They showed his determination but also highlighted his state of pain and anguish. The author’s dreams were in jeopardy because of one unnecessary incident, and staying on course was his only way of winning this battle. I enjoyed this book and hope to read more books by this amazing author.

Doreen Chombu

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman is the author's love letter to a mysterious woman who helped him through a tough time. All John Selman ever wanted was to follow in his father's footsteps to become a naval aviator. Before he began training, John visited his father and stepmother, a woman who despised and abused him as a child. On his final day with them, she laced his food with powerful drugs that made him hallucinate about monsters and aliens for months. Despite his confused mental state, John decided to continue his studies. Amidst all the chaos in his mind, John envisioned the most beautiful woman in the universe and held on to the idea of meeting her one day.

Letters to Evelyn is one of the most unusual memoirs I have ever read because it begins with real-life events and then turns into a science-fiction story midway. The combination kept me glued to the book and left me in awe. John Selman will lead you into the psyche of a drug-induced man and cause you to question reality. Everything felt like an out-of-body experience but also socially familiar. John talks about world problems like the war, loving one another, and stopping racism. Then he goes on trips with aliens and foresees major world events. The book is unpredictable and has many funny moments that make it intriguing and memorable. I also loved the eye-catching book cover and well-organized book format. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves reading mind-bending tales.

Paul Zietsman

Letters to Evelyn is an unusual yet thought-provoking and often humorous memoir by John Selman. John says that he was kidnapped at age four by his father and stepmother, at whose hands he suffered abuse. Several years later, as an adult, he returns for a visit to his stepmother. On the morning that he was due to leave on a bus, he says that his stepmother doused eggs that she prepared for him with 500 to 600 doses of LSD. He says that, afterward, he hallucinated for ten consecutive months. This interfered with his dream of becoming a naval aviator, and he had a tough time in the navy, often seeing aliens as part of his hallucinations. During this time, he conjured up an image of the perfect woman, namely Evelyn, whom he came to meet in later years.

Letters to Evelyn is remarkable in the way that John Selman depicts events so vividly that I could clearly envision them, almost like I was there myself. Much of the book consists of his inner dialogue, offering the reader a glimpse into his mind and a glimpse of what it is like to be under the influence of psychedelic drugs. The comical side of it is exceedingly brilliant, to the point that even when I wasn't busy reading, the story would creep into my mind, and I would start laughing abruptly. John's quirky style of writing, his truthfulness in his thoughts, and the unusual events in Letters to Evelyn make for an interesting and very unique book.

Doreen Chombu

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman is a captivating memoir that seamlessly blends elements of fiction and non-fiction, providing a vivid account of the author's journey. From a young age, John always aspired to follow in his father's military footsteps and become a naval aviator. However, before attending flight school, he visits his father and stepmother, Lauren, in Utica. Out of spite, Lauren douses his food with lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and for ten months, John suffers from the after-effects of drugs but chooses to keep it a secret and does not reveal his mental decline to anyone. In this book, he recounts his experiences aboard the naval ship, the hallucinations of extraterrestrial beings, and his love story with a mysterious woman. John also starts having premonitions of major future events, and his colleagues start calling him Jesus.

Reading Letters to Evelyn is a mind-blowing experience that I will remember for a long time. The story is trippy because of the narrator's drug-induced state of mind, but it remains remarkably coherent and engaging due to its intriguing plot and the author's engaging writing. The book has science fiction, time travel, paranormal, comedy, and historical elements, and is unpredictable, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. John Selman delivers one of the most remarkable works I have ever read, delving into profound topics such as racism, equality, patriotism, and love. His writing is laced with poetic verses, song lyrics, and references to iconic movie scenes, elevating the book's overall appeal. The visuals are beautiful, from the eye-catching cover to the elegant fonts and consistent format. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to anyone seeking a truly enjoyable and lovable reading experience.

K.C. Finn

Letters to Evelyn is a work of both fiction and creative non-fiction in romance, metaphysical writing, poetry, and epic subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience. Penned by author John Selman, this interesting abstract work blurs the lines between fact and fiction, presenting a captivating narrative that seamlessly blends U.S. Navy memoir, sci-fi, and biblical elements. Set against the backdrop of John's journey to become a Navy pilot and navigate the complexities of war, love, and premonitions, the book unfolds as a hard-to-believe true story. The author, drawing inspiration from personal experiences, shares encounters with extraterrestrial crafts, adding a unique dimension to the narrative. The final section takes a whimsical turn into a sci-fi and biblical exploration, culminating in the return of God, Adam, and Eve to Earth.

Author John Selman has crafted a truly ethereal and immersive reading experience, offering a glimpse into the challenges and extraordinary moments of his life alongside some really powerful poetic and philosophical moments. The narrative's unique blend of genres is what makes it special. I was impressed by the crafting of the pace, layout, and organization of the chapters to make the story gel together and weave these elements seamlessly into the overall experience. I also really enjoyed the frankness of the narrative voice, as the author's candid storytelling makes for a compelling stream of consciousness and a thought-provoking read that you don’t want to put down. Overall, I would recommend Letters to Evelyn for readers interested in personal narratives, military memoirs, and speculative fiction who are looking for a truly unique mix of influences and genres to explore.

Zahid Sheikh

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman begins with a heartfelt poem expressing the poet's deep emotions and longing for his beloved Eve. The introduction provides a comprehensive account of John's family tradition of being in the military. His grandfather was a JAG officer, and his father was a naval officer. The narrative provides a detailed account of John's birth in Albuquerque, NM, his upbringing in Brunswick, ME, and the challenges in his life from his parents' divorce. The subsequent chapters transition to highlight John's life and experiences. The narrative takes a turn when John Selman's memoir highlights personal reflection, past events, and love for Evelyn. The possibility of Evelyn's return in the epilogue and her return in 2015 brings the story to a thrilling conclusion.

Letters to Evelyn is a blend of romance, science fiction, and spiritual exploration. John Selman highlights his family struggles, his aspiration to become a naval officer, and his journey with mental health. Letters to Evelyn discusses the challenges John faced in the military environment. The author emphasizes love, integrity, and leadership throughout the narrative. Selman's writing style is rich in detail, providing vivid descriptions of his experiences and surroundings, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the story. The inclusion of dialogue and emotional disclosure adds depth to the narrative. The author's ability to merge diverse themes and suspenseful story-telling with motivational conversation makes Letters to Evelyn a commendable read. John Selman's life serves as a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

Letters to Evelyn is a memoir with fictional elements by John Selman. The author, a military man like other men in his family, tells the story of his life to Evelyn, a woman he admires, in a series of letters. Selman discusses times in his youth when he suffered abuse from his father and stepmother, and an instance in college after visiting them that caused him intense hallucinations, resulting in prophetic visions. Selman details interesting experiences in flight school and outlines his feelings about women he loved who did not return the emotion. He expresses his intention for Evelyn Tuskegee to read his work. Selman's work moves into a fantasy story about the way he envisioned the world if Evelyn had returned to him.

John Selman's book is deeply spiritual, and the lines of the opening poem have a melodic quality. I could envision them being sung in a musical as people assumed the roles described in the verses. Readers will feel at home with Selman's work as he makes lots of references to popular culture. The author's childhood experiences with his father and stepmother are troubling. In his fantasy story, the characters share deep connections and even experience a humorous flight into a certain part of an extraterrestrial dinosaur's anatomy. Readers will hope Evelyn Tuskegee reads Letters to Evelyn, and many individuals will see the vision Selman has for a more united world and universe. This book will capture the interest of readers who enjoy realistic fiction and magical realism.

Olga Markova

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman is a unique, extraordinary blend of memoir, science fiction, and fantasy. John’s memoir opens with a jaw-dropping story of his life, sharing the abuse he suffered as a child and the hallucinations that tormented him after his poisoning with LSD-laced eggs. The fascinating account of his Navy and pilot training, the challenges he overcame in his military career, his career efforts, achievements, and failures, and his romantic affections follow. The aliens landing on Earth to save it from man-made and natural disasters join in the narrative, adding science fiction and fantasy elements to John’s extraordinary adventures on Earth and beyond. John’s drawings of the aliens, his unique pilot-training photograph, thoroughly referenced Bible quotes, and rich bibliography enhance the reading experience.

Letters to Evelyn grabbed me from the first page with fast-moving, easy-to-read, and action-packed storytelling. I liked how John Selman explored a wide range of topical modern issues, including the U.S. role in international relationships, child abuse, and the ruinous long-term impact of LSD consumption. But what I liked most was the science fiction and fantasy aspect, spiced with awesome, if irreverent, humor. The tour along the Intergalactic Superhighway to Neptune was one of the best stories I have recently read! I highly recommend this unique read to adult fans of memoirs, science fiction, and fantasy. Readers interested in Navy and aviation training and piloting maneuvers will also enjoy this book. An astounding, riveting read. Due to occasional profanity and a graphic episode, this book is not appropriate for younger readers.

Christian Sia

John Selman’s memoir Letters to Evelyn doesn’t offer a linear storyline. Still, it features crucial moments in the author’s life, including his kidnapping when he was just four years old, his visit to his father's home, a visit fraught with unsettling encounters as he engages in long, discomforting conversations about the past and his father's service in Vietnam. A critical error during a formation maneuver leads to his failure to earn his wings, accompanied by the emotional fallout of a breakup and disappointment. He also witnesses the appearance of an alien spacecraft outside his home, an experience that will have a lasting impact on him and the scientific community. Such are just a few of the events shared in this memoir.

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman offers a compelling symphony of love and madness that transports readers to the furthest reaches of the human psyche. The image of Evelyn Tuskegee accompanies readers as they follow the author through his disturbing experiences, hallucinating constantly and having aliens assault him with every step. His reflections on love, loss, and redemption are imbued with a sense of urgency and longing, pulling readers into his world with every word. Letters to Evelyn is truly remarkable in exploring the intersection between reality and fantasy. Selman blurs the lines between truth and illusion, weaving a narrative as enigmatic as it is engaging. His prophetic visions and encounters with extraterrestrial beings become the summit of his crisis. The author discusses belonging and goes beyond mere physical connection while addressing himself to the ineffable mysteries of the universe. Selman's devotion to Evelyn succinctly captures the folly of love. This narrative is raw, honest, and unforgettable.

Divine Zape

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman is a haunting odyssey of love and redemption, a tale that takes readers on a journey through the author’s life — both illuminating and unsettling at times. The memoir is written for Evelyn Tuskegee, and the author invites readers to celebrate her. From the opening chapters, Selman's narrative grips readers with its raw honesty and emotional intensity. His reflections on childhood trauma, failed relationships, and existential crises resonate on a visceral level, moving readers to empathy and compassion. Each chapter contains memories, dreams, and hallucinations woven together in lyrical prose.

Letters to Evelyn offers a mesmerizing exploration of the human condition and the quest for meaning in a chaotic world. Selman explores themes of identity, spirituality, and the nature of reality. His encounters with extraterrestrial beings and visions pull readers into a surreal dimension. Sometimes, one has the impression that one is entangled in the author’s dream world, a phantasmagoria of disconnected thoughts and imagery. The writing is sometimes filled with insightful musings about life, humanity, beauty, and the spiritual. John Selman’s book is a love story – between two individuals and between a man and his soul. Selman's unwavering devotion to Evelyn is heartbreaking and inspiring, a light amidst the darkness he wallows in. His journey toward self-acceptance and forgiveness is wonderfully crafted. This memoir is a profound and unforgettable literary piece, and Selman's poetic prose and introspective storytelling create an immersive reading experience that is as enlightening as it is emotionally resonant.

Romuald Dzemo

Letters to Evelyn by John Selman opens with a poem and a letter addressed to Evelyn Tuskegee, which introduces the work. Through the memoir, the author opens his mind and soul to share his experiences and intimate thoughts with Evelyn, who is described as a stunning beauty. Each chapter is a window into a different facet of his life. He shares his experiences, including a kidnapping for eleven weeks when he was just four years old, his dream of following in his father’s footsteps in aviation, his flight career in the navy, and extraterrestrial encounters. In the backdrop to these stories is the deep longing for love and the ache for Evelyn. The narrative is not linear but a mosaic of memories, emotions, and reflections, intricately woven to create a multifaceted portrait of the protagonist's psyche.

John Selman's exploration of identity and spirituality is one of the book's most compelling elements. Throughout his journey, he struggles with the legacy of his family's military tradition, his aspirations, and his complex relationship with religion. His hallucinations, prophetic visions, and encounters with extraterrestrial beings blur the lines between reality and mysticism, challenging readers to question the nature of existence and the boundaries of human consciousness. Letters to Evelyn is a story of transformation and self-discovery. Despite facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Selman manages to cling to hope, nurturing a strong sense of belonging. John Selman’s memoir is unique and can be read as a love story, a tale of adventure, and a man’s quest to find himself in the universe.