We hate to begin an article with a cliché, but (our apologies) you’ll understand in a minute. Ready?

“Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.”

In CW3 Cesare Giannetti’s novel Back to Serve: Return of a Soldier, the fictional Nico Corretti is winding down a career in the U.S. Army. Yet he struggles in retirement and is drawn back to military service twice. While the book is fiction, it feels like the author himself is telling you his life story. 

Five days after posting our review, we received this email from the author:

“I wanted to share with you an unbelievable story that I thought you’d appreciate. After you posted your review of my book, I was contacted via text by a veteran, CPT Corretti [the same name as his protagonist]! Yes, he really exists. He served in the U.S. Army for seven years. I looked up his name and address and telephone — it’s him. He even sent me a picture of his hat and nametag.”

But what makes the story incredible, according to the author, are the uncanny similarities he has with the fictional character in the book. Consider:

  • He has same name and rank in the Army.
  • His father’s name is John, just like CPT Corretti’s father in the book. The veteran’s first name is also John, like his dad.
  • His home address is literally just around the corner from the Soldiers Home in Murray Hill in New York City, where the author and his fictional Corretti would often stay.
  • Like the fictional character, the real CPT Corretti grew up in New York City but also lived in Texas for a while.
  • Both he and his father are (as the real Corretti put it) huge Yankees fans — just like both characters in the book.

Says Giannetti, “He was curious how I came up with his name for the book. I told him I wanted something similar to mine, but didn’t want to use CPT Corelli, as that was in a Nicolas Cage movie already [Captain Corelli’s Mandolin]. But that surely I had never heard of his name before.”

 After concluding their texts, Giannetti sent the real Corretti a copy of the book.

“He said he looked forward to reading it. I asked him to let me know if there were any other similarities that he came across.“

Would Giannetti ever want to meet up with the real Corretti? “I would definitely meet up with him the next time I am in the city. But I would like that to be his call.”

“What gets me the most, besides the obvious coincidences, is just how close he lives to the Soldiers Home; that one to me is just unbelievable. I asked him about it. He said he walks by it all the time. There’s a strange comfort there. I can see it now. CPT Corretti, whether in fiction or reality, walks daily by the Soldiers Home in midtown Manhattan. I like that.”