FishHawk Resident Takes Humorous Look at Growing Up in 1st Novel
In "It Never Ends: The Terrible Life of Carl," retired Col. Carl E. Pfeiffer looks back on growing up in a decidedly dysfunctional family.
It was hardly an idylllic childhood.
Now 47 years old, FishHawk Ranch resident Carl E. Pfeiffer grew up a chubby kid who made poor grades and was the constant target of bullying.
While it may have been a painful existence at the time, Pfeiffer looks back on his boyhood challenges with humor in his first novel, "It Never Ends: The Terrible Life of Carl."
Pfeiffer, who retired as an Army colonel in 2009 and now works as a Department of Defense civilian at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, had been entertaining friends for years at parties and barbecues with his childhood stories.
"People would either laugh or cry," said Pfeiffer. "And then they'd tell me that I should write a book. So, when I retired, I started scratching out notes."
Encouraged by his friend, Sean Flynn, author of "The Fighting 69th: One Remarkable National Guard Unit's Journey from Ground Zero to Baghdad," Pfeiffer continued writing whenever he had a chance.
"I remember I was going to a reunion to give a long-overdue Purple Heart to a Vietnam veteran, and I ended up getting stuck in the Chicago airport for 12 hours," said Pfeiffer. "I wrote 30 pages of the book right there in the airport."
Writing in his spare time, it took Pfeiffer two years to complete the 250-page book.
He said his problem wasn't finding enough material for a book; it was deciding which of the many stories from his dysfunctional childhood should be included.
"I have an MBA and a graduate degree in strategic studies, but all of my writing had been military stuff," said Pfeiffer. "This was different. These were some very personal stories so I sat on it for a year before my friends convinced me to get it published."
Pfeiffer describes the book as "a series of funny stories that are my life. They're the kind of stories anyone who's grown up in a crazy family can relate to."
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Pfeiffer was born to parents who were indifferent and bit eccentric.
"My father was convinced that our neighbor was in the mafia and used to steal the neighbor's garbage, looking for proof," said Pfeiffer.
Growing up was a constant struggle for Pfeiffer.
"I was the classic kid who got bad grades, couldn't make friends and was chubby."
To make matters worse, his family moved to Fairport, N.Y., where he ended up living next door to four brothers who bullied him relentlessly.
Things didn't get much better when he reached his teens.
He describes himself as a geek with an obsession for the rock band, Kiss.
However, Pfeiffer said he's living proof that even the worst circumstances can be turned around with determination.
"We're all given opportunities," he said. "You just need to identify them and take advantage of that opportunity. You either overcome obstacles or you don't."
In Pfeiffer's case, the opportunity came in the form of the Army.
"I give the Army a lot of credit for the man I am today," he said. "When I made the decision to join the Army, I decided I was going to be good at this."
He said he also made a wise decision in his choice of life partners. After a failed first marriage, he renewed his friendship with his high school sweetheart, Janet. The two have been married 20 years and have two children, Rebecca, 17, and Christopher, 15.
Pfeiffer sets the stage for his book by opening with the birth of his daughter "from a man's perspective."
After his less-than-perfect childhood, Pfeiffer was naturally concerned about being father material. He said he discovered in raising his own two kids that parental mistakes are inevitable. "But kids will overlook them if they know they're wanted and loved."
With his first novel under his belt, Pfeiffer is now halfway through writing a second book, this time a collection of funny stories from his Army days called "It Never Ends: Comrades, Crimes and Conspiracies." The book is due to be published in September.
"It's not a traditional Army story," he said. It includes stories from his deployment to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom III as well as stories about his tenure as battalion commander in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Pfeiffer's book is available for $19.99 on Lulu.com and Amazon.com.
The author can be reached at email@example.com.