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A meandering but sincere account of love and addiction.

Barkley’s fictionalized memoir follows one man’s harrowing journey to sobriety and coming out.

“For many years, Dad was my favorite drinking buddy,” reflects the author in the opening pages as his father, Tate, is taken to the hospital following a heart attack. Barkley, now five years sober, recalls his troubled childhood and the ways in which Tate’s influence both inspired his successful career as a lawyer and brought about the addiction that ruined it. Tate was a conman who disappeared for weeks at a time, leaving Barkley, his mother, and his sisters to starve. Childhood trauma pushed the author to drinking, which—ironically—brought him closer to Tate, an inveterate alcoholic. Barkley’s drinking stemmed in part from the fear of losing his father's love: from an early age, the author knew he was gay. In clunky (but faithfully rendered) reminiscences, he recalls his first erotic experiences and the horrific pressure to conceal his sexuality in North Carolina and, later, in Texas, two states in which gay people faced particularly severe persecution. Although the memoir lingers on Barkley’s early childhood for too long, the narrative covers compelling emotional terrain later as the author begins to explore the devious nature of his alcoholism. After college, exhausted from pretending to be straight, he attended law school at Oregon’s Willamette University, hoping that a liberal environment would help him to live openly as a gay man and end his drinking. Yet it took him years to come out, and when he did, his addiction was entrenched: “I needed to drink to be ‘out’, and I had begun to need the steadiness of a drink to focus on my cases.” Barkley’s tendency to eschew structure and simply place one scene after the next makes for an exhausting read, but his story is fascinating as it explores poverty, sobriety, and the ways in which toxic masculinity can warp one’s sense of self.

A meandering but sincere account of love and addiction.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2023

ISBN: 9781953321220

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Micro Publishing Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2023

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The stormy career of a top Navy SEAL hotspur. Commander Marcinko, USN Ret., recently served time at Petersburg Federal Prison for conspiracy to defraud the Navy by overcharging for specialized equipment—the result, he says, of telling off too many admirals. It seems that his ornery and joyous aggression, nurtured by a Czech grandfather in a flinty Pennsylvania mining town, has brought him to grief in peace and to brilliance in war. Serving his first tour in Vietnam in 1966 as an enlisted SEAL expert in underwater demolition, Marcinko returned for a second tour as an officer leading a commando squad he had trained. Here, his accounts of riverine warfare—creeping underwater to Vietcong boats and slipping over their gunwales; raiding VC island strongholds in the South China Sea; steaming up to the Cambodian border to tempt the VC across and being overrun- -are galvanic, detailed, and told with a true craftsman's love. What did he think of the Vietcong? ``The bastards—they were good.'' His battle philosophy? ``...kill my enemy before he has a chance to kill me....Never did I give Charlie an even break.'' After the aborted desert rescue of US hostages in the Tehran embassy, Marcinko was ordered to create SEAL Team Six—a counterterrorist unit with worldwide maritime responsibilities. In 1983, the unit was deployed to Beirut to test the security of the US embassy there. Easily evading the embassy security detail, sleeping Lebanese guards, and the Marines, the SEALs planted enough fake bombs to level the building. When Marcinko spoke to ``a senior American official'' about the problem, the SEAL's blunt security advice was rejected, particularly in respect to car-bomb attacks. Ninety days later, 63 people in the embassy compound were killed by a suicide bomber driving a TNT-filled truck. Profane and asking no quarter: the real nitty-gritty, bloody and authentic. (Eight-page photo insert—not seen.)

Pub Date: March 2, 1992

ISBN: 0-671-70390-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

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Great fun.

The second installment of childhood recollections (after Opposite the Cross Keys, 1988) by mystery writer S.T. Haymon, who here evokes a sheltered 12-year-old's further encounters with life's earthier side.

Haymon's 1920's, upper-middle-class childhood revolved typically around school, home, loyal servants, and a pair of doting, well-educated parents—until age 12, when her father died and her mother decided to move to London. Refusing to accompany her, the precocious, comically self-confident Sylvia tried to limit this series of upheavals by insisting on remaining in Norfolk in the care of a favorite teacher—except that at the last minute her headmistress (already a sworn enemy) switched houses, arranging for two maiden schoolteachers to put Sylvia up in their house instead. Sylvia knew that the Misses Gosse and Locke were eccentric. What she didn't know was that the skinny, aggressive history teacher and the teary, puppy-like math professor were lesbians. Nor did she notice as Miss Locke's increasingly desperate infatuation with her began to lead the entire household toward destruction. Amusing characters abound—the gardener, Sylvia's only ally, whose faith in the value of a virgin's tips on the horse races led him to pay her for advice; the dour housekeeper who sang opera and downed bottles of gin; the art teacher's model who bewildered Sylvia with talk of "randy old dykes"; and the spiritual channel who informed her that her daddy was watching everything she did from heaven. Haymon's depiction of herself as an unusually clever, frequently petulant, and thoroughly practical young girl obsessed with filling her stomach while all sorts of passionate fireworks exploded around her evokes an era when secrets still existed and scandals were bursting to happen—and makes for slyly humorous, very British entertainment.

Great fun.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 1990

ISBN: 312-04986-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

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