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Louise Steinman's American childhood in the fifties was bound by one unequivocal condition: 'Never mention the war to your father'. That silence sustained itself until the fateful day Steinman opened an old ammunition box left behind after her parents' death. In it she discovered nearly 500 letters her father had written to her mother during his service in the Pacific War and a Japanese flag mysteriously inscribed to Yoshio Shimizu. Setting out to determine the identity of Yoshio Shimizu and the origins of the silken flag, Steinman discovered the unexpected: a hidden side of her father, the green soldier who achingly left his pregnant wife to fight for his life in a brutal 165-day campaign that changed him forever.Her journey to return the 'souvenir' to its owner t only takes Steinman on a passage to Japan and the Philippines, but also returns her to the age of her father's incence, where she learns of the tender and expressive man she'd never kwn. Steinman writes with the same poignant immediacy her father did in his letters. Together their stories in The Souvenir create an evocative testament to the ways in which war changes one generation and shapes ather.
Louise Steinman is curator of the award-winning ALOUD at Central Library literary series at the Los Angeles Public Library. Her work appears frequently in The Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly, and has appeared in syndication in The New York Times and other publications.