The Other Man

By Kevin Dooley


The Other Man, Baico; ISBN 978-1-897357-59-0; 376 pages; $22.95, is Kevin Dooley’s second published novel. It is a poignant tale of war and its ongoing traumatic aftermath. It opens in a modern day trauma group where the effects of war are seen and treated. This group now connects to the legacy of earlier wars.  It unfolds on the grim saga of the returned soldiers who never left the mental hospitals and of their women. A forgotten hero, Marteen Reade, is found, and his story told. Marteen is the quintessential soldier of all wars.  In him and the women around him are seen the perennial legacy of war trauma that travels through the generations.

Brief plot elaboration

Marteen Reade, Irish born, the nation’s most decorated soldier, is interred in a prison cemetery, neglected, forgotten. But he comes alive again to haunt and to comfort those he fought for in his long, troubled life. His story will be told. The Bronze Star Women will have their say. Reade’s life and times are connected to these tragic women, the close relatives of the shell-shocked soldiers of World Wars 1 and 11 who never left the mental hospitals.

Reade’s soldiering experiences like many other Irishmen took him to far-flung wars, including the Boer War, the Indian Frontier, and the Western Front in the Great War. He was a lowly medic and clerk, but his work connected him to the larger elements and dynamics of these wars — and the common soldier’s opposition to it all, in his quest for peace, decency, and even utopia.

Before the dawn of World War 11, Marteen Reade’s ultimate clash with the war machine and the officer cast of the British Commonwealth world will cost him his freedom. Author Dooley weaves a bloody and passionate tale of his protagonist’s struggles.

Modern wars still produce legions of the traumatized. Today this is recognized, and treatment is offered. It is in such a treatment group that the worlds of the modern regiment and Marteen Reade meet.

About the author.

Michael Kevin Dooley, Irish born and bred, came to Canada in 1977 after 11 years at sea and living in Great Britain, Australia, and South Africa. A work life as a Machinist and Marine Engineer followed, including service in the Coast Guard, until a work injury ended it. Writing, long an avocation with many stories and novels written by hand, is now his avocation.

The story of the common person, men and women trying to realize dreams and to overcome and go beyond the obstacles to them, drives this writer.

Kevin is married and with his wife Onagh has four children 17 to 34.

Although ending a formal education at age 15, Kevin has read extensively, travelled widely, and knows his way around a library. Kevin is also a fluent Gaelic speaker and teacher, and a gifted musician who has performed on several world stages — and Ottawa Valley Cellis.

Aside from writing, Kevin has put his many talents to successful campaigns to erect a Celtic Cross Memorial at the Rideau Locks between Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier hotel and Parliament Hill and the naming of a pedestrian walkway over the Rideau Canal as the Corktown Bridge, both in honour of the Irish navies who worked and died in the building of the Rideau Canal.

Two reviews of The Other Man

Wartime remembered

Ottawa Novelist Kevin Dooley has turned to the First World War as subject matter for The Other Man (Ottawa, Baico, 2007 $22.95, ISBN 978-1-897357-59-0).   Dooley’s research into the life of a real First World War veteran, Private Michael James (Mickey) O’Rourke (1879-1957) provided the inspiration for this novel.   O’Rourke, a stretcher bearer on the front lines, was awarded the Victoria Cross for valour.   On returning to Canada, traumatized by his experiences, he led a troubled life. Dooley’s central character, Marteen Reade, is loosely based upon O’Rourke.

Like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, The Other Man is a story within a story – a tale from the past framed by a shorter story set in the present.   It begins in a rehabilitation unit and is told from the perspective of a fictional soldier, Colm Dunne, who is coping with a head injury and posttraumatic stress disorder.   At a military dinner, Colm happens to notice a portrait of a man who bears a striking resemblance to himself.   He learns that the man in the picture if Marteen Reade, a Canadian First World War hero.  Colm’s interest in this “other man” attracts the attention of a couple who have Reade’s hand-written memoirs in their possession.   They want Reade’s story told, but first it must be typed and readied for publication by someone who will appreciate it and not delete the gritty, controversial parts.   Colm takes on this task.

The main part of the novel is Reade’s account of his wartime experiences. Full of action and drama, it is not for the faint of heart. “I still ask myself, how did we keep going?” he writes.  “It is simple, really.  We were comrades. We kept going for each other”.

This book extends our knowledge and increases our respect for what Canadians have gone through in wartime.

Published Forever Young Magazine November 2007
Ruth Latta, B.A., M.A.,
Author,  Journalist, Forever Young Magazine



The Other Man

A Novel by Kevin Dooley

“And, looking back now, the only thing I can still feel that is still with me today, is that sense of tiredness, numbness, complete exhaustion, living like a zombie and then as I said, a sleep, a meal, a bottle of whiskey and we could and did face it all again and again, such, I suppose, is the nature of the human being.”

That is the tormented expression of another traumatized soldier on the front-line of another horrible war.   The torment of front-line soldiers’ from Achilles and Hector through mankind’s wars to the Second World War, Korean, Vietnam and Iraq.   Marteen Reade, Mr. Dooley’s central character, is designed and developed with such skill that makes Marteen the archetype of soldiers from the beginning of time who are traumatized; a major accomplishment by the author and a deep pleasure for the reader who experiences that side of our human nature.

Mr. Dooley also demonstrates the extension of that trauma to soldiers’ wives, children, extended family and their societies. That personal and social revelation is intensified when we learn that the character of Marteen was inspired by the life of First World War Veteran Private Michael James (Mickey) O’Rourke (1879-1957) a stretcher-bearer on the front lines who was awarded the Victoria Cross for valour.

Thus, the plot of The Other Man expresses a real soldier’s experiences, and the sub-plots convey the torture of family and society both of which blend to make this novel a unique universal expression of human nature and a deep aesthetic experience for the reader.

Dr. Frank Tierney, retired Professor, English Literature. University of Ottawa,
Publisher Borealis Press.