HELLO TO ALL THAT by John Falk
Kirkus Star

HELLO TO ALL THAT

A Memoir of War, Zoloft, and Peace
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A twist on the usual Prozac memoirs and war-reporter memoirs: Falk offers both of same in this absorbing account of his battle with depression and his time as a freelance foreign correspondent in Sarajevo.

Rather than limit himself to tales of childhood despair or the challenges of being a new reporter in a war zone, Falk combines the two. As a boy, the author felt content, loved, and connected to his world. But that all ended one morning when he was 12 and woke up to find himself emotionally cut off from all he had previously cared for, for no reason he could recognize. He spent the next 12 years putting up a good front, until he finally began taking Zoloft and almost miraculously felt like himself again. Becoming a correspondent in a war zone seemed the best way to rejoin the human race and experience some of the intensity of life he’d missed for so long. So Falk scared up some press credentials and flew to Sarajevo, landing smack in the middle of the hostilities of 1993. His portrait of the ruined city, the confusion, and the humanity is rich and vivid, and the characters he introduces are beautifully realized: Dina, a straight-A student who studies through the war and works two jobs; Vlado, an “antisniper” (a shooter who targets snipers only) whose story of divided loyalties is particularly searing. Even in the midst of war and depression, Falk manages to keep things entertaining with highly readable prose and many tales of professional mistakes. He almost befriends a ruthless black-marketeer, and later escapes being mistaken for a spy when his interrogators decide he’s simply too inept to be in espionage (during the questioning, while smoking, he’d accidentally burned a hole in the crotch of his jeans).

A remarkably warm, surprisingly moving, and timely portrait of daily life in a war zone.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 2005
ISBN: 0-8050-7218-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2004