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A Memoir

by Anthony Swofford

Pub Date: June 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4555-0673-6
Publisher: Twelve

Fiery follow-up memoir by the bestselling author of Jarhead (2003).

In his first memoir, Swofford (Exit A, 2007, etc.) chronicled his brutal stint as a sniper in the First Gulf War. A smash success, the book was made into an eponymous Hollywood movie. Reveling in his newfound fame, Swofford relished his easy access to money, casual sex and drugs. Here, he chronicles how his overindulgence in all three resulted in the loss of his fortune. The stream of women feels endless; he cheated and lied about being in love, using sex to quell boredom and his deep, sometimes deadly, loneliness and intermittent hopelessness. Details of intimate entanglements with women, booze and a rainbow of prescription pills make for sometimes painful reading, as one relationship after another crashes and burns, and the hypersexual Swofford displays little to no emotional growth or empathy. Simultaneously, he revisits his volatile, even hateful, relationship with his father, a veteran who verbally and occasionally physically abused his three children. Swofford's father is now divorced and suffering from emphysema, but this pitiable state doesn't blunt the author’s rage about his father's past failings. These include a laundry list of misdeeds, such as the time Swofford overlooked dog droppings that he'd been charged with picking up and his father dragged him across the yard and held his face inches away from the feces. Flooded with anger toward his father, Swofford is choked by grief when recalling vivid memories of his older brother, Jeff, who died of cancer as an adult. Swofford's writing, like many of his stories, is explosive.

The author’s voice and energy are compelling, but his hot, volcanic anger saturates the narrative, and the sheer self-indulgence and lack of filter make the book oscillate from wildly engaging to off-putting. Nonetheless, it’s sure to be a bestseller.