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Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails: A Memoir

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Following the success of Jarhead, Anthony Swofford assumed he had exorcised his military demons -- but as every veteran knows, that isn't exactly how it works. In these searing, courageous pages, Swofford struggles to make sense of what his military service meant, and to decide -- after nearly ending it -- what his life can and should become. Consumed by drugs, booze, fast Following the success of Jarhead, Anthony Swofford assumed he had exorcised his military demons -- but as every veteran knows, that isn't exactly how it works. In these searing, courageous pages, Swofford struggles to make sense of what his military service meant, and to decide -- after nearly ending it -- what his life can and should become. Consumed by drugs, booze, fast cars and the wrong women, Swofford almost lost everything and everyone that mattered to him. Embarking on a series of RV trips with his dying father, a Vietnam vet, in an attempt to heal their difficult relationship, and meeting a like-minded woman (who will become his wife) in a chance encounter, Swofford begins to grapple with his volatile past and forge a path toward redemption. HOTELS, HOSPITALS, AND JAILS is a must-read memoir that raises essential questions about masculinity, about fathers and sons, and about love.


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Following the success of Jarhead, Anthony Swofford assumed he had exorcised his military demons -- but as every veteran knows, that isn't exactly how it works. In these searing, courageous pages, Swofford struggles to make sense of what his military service meant, and to decide -- after nearly ending it -- what his life can and should become. Consumed by drugs, booze, fast Following the success of Jarhead, Anthony Swofford assumed he had exorcised his military demons -- but as every veteran knows, that isn't exactly how it works. In these searing, courageous pages, Swofford struggles to make sense of what his military service meant, and to decide -- after nearly ending it -- what his life can and should become. Consumed by drugs, booze, fast cars and the wrong women, Swofford almost lost everything and everyone that mattered to him. Embarking on a series of RV trips with his dying father, a Vietnam vet, in an attempt to heal their difficult relationship, and meeting a like-minded woman (who will become his wife) in a chance encounter, Swofford begins to grapple with his volatile past and forge a path toward redemption. HOTELS, HOSPITALS, AND JAILS is a must-read memoir that raises essential questions about masculinity, about fathers and sons, and about love.

30 review for Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Petra: all work & no play makes you poor.On hiatus

    I'm really enjoying this book. I don't know why the average rating is so low, perhaps people were expecting Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles revisited. Swofford has a unique tone, a flat confessional affect that fits well in this biography that, at least as far as I've read, centres around the death of his older brother and his awful bitterness at his father. In fact the author is so bitter that he pulls out letters years old from his father accusing him of petty cr I'm really enjoying this book. I don't know why the average rating is so low, perhaps people were expecting Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles revisited. Swofford has a unique tone, a flat confessional affect that fits well in this biography that, at least as far as I've read, centres around the death of his older brother and his awful bitterness at his father. In fact the author is so bitter that he pulls out letters years old from his father accusing him of petty crimes and he proceeds to defend himself against such small things as not turning up at a party without a present for his father although his father has specifically asked for none. He is obsessed with both small and larger (although no really major) sins his father committed against him whether it is punishments as a child for not doing tasks he saw as onerous, or taking advantage of his father and 'borrowing' vehicles for extended periods of time and then being asked to pay for the insurance. Since I was an abused child, I am enjoying this pettiness and revenge-by-print on his father enormously. I've written about the author! I have written nothing but about the author in this review. I have not written anything positive about the author (whom I like and admire, but he is a really bitter git). Am I going to get flagged for breaching the ToS. Or perhaps I misread the ToS and what it really says is, "You can write anything you like in your review about the author that could be construed as helping the producers of the product that Gramazon sells. Everything else is forbidden. We aren't going to specify what 'everything' is but will decide on a case by case basis as advised by our expert team at StGRB." *** Update 2: I have expanded the proper review of the book to be about nothing except the author who is a very bitter person and using his talent to retaliate against his father in a particularly hurtful way in print. I cannot see how I can review this book without writing about the author. If I write nice things about him it wouldn't be about the book. This is a dilemma. Please flag me if you feel I have done wrong. Ok, flag me anyway. Also do you like my new Sunday name? It is my protest. If you care, I wrote it somewhere on my profile comments, but I wouldn't bother because it's all a bit petty. Update 1: I'm on the StGRB shitlist! Fame at last. I'm a bully apparently. I write about serial spammers who don't read my profile (they can't be bothered) and spam me. GR doesn't mind them spamming apparently, and we aren't allowed to tell people just in case it prejudices them against buying the book and giving Amazon $$$. Ridiculous. So I'm on the shit list, heheh. You know what they say, all publicity is good publicity and I don't think I'm anywhere else on the net at all. Weird definition of 'bully' these people have. I think they mean calling out any author for any behaviour whatsoever. But since they have published names, addresses, restaurants 'bully' reviewers eat in, family names, where people work etc, you have to wonder who is doing the bullying. And also why, by putting me on the list, they condone spamming as a legitimate marketing tactic if they are so high and mighty?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    This is a difficult book to assemble my thoughts on. Firstly, it wasn't what I was expecting it to be. Having just read Jarhead, I was expecting Swofford's second memoir to deal with his reintegration with society after his time in the war. In actuality, there is a gap of several years between the events in the two books. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but I have to admit it threw me and, as a result, I had trouble getting into this book at first. Once I got past this, I found myself This is a difficult book to assemble my thoughts on. Firstly, it wasn't what I was expecting it to be. Having just read Jarhead, I was expecting Swofford's second memoir to deal with his reintegration with society after his time in the war. In actuality, there is a gap of several years between the events in the two books. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but I have to admit it threw me and, as a result, I had trouble getting into this book at first. Once I got past this, I found myself wondering what the book was about. Ridiculous, perhaps, as this a memoir, not a work of fiction, but this mindset was a further hindrance to my connecting with the narrative. Said narrative jumps around a great deal, chronologically, but that didn't worry me. Swofford arranges events thematically rather than as they happened. Most of the time, this approach works well. Again, I'm probably approaching this in a wrongheaded fashion, but it was difficult to root for the author as he so often presents himself in such a negative way. On a number of occasions, he accuses his elder brother of being a fantasist but, with the light he shines upon himself, it's difficult not to think the author may have a fantasist streak himself. This book reminded me of something Jonathan Ames might write, but without the humour. Swofford is almost entirely humourless... either that or he's so deadpan he makes Jack Dee look like Lee Evans. The book isn't without its strengths, though. A number of times I was deeply moved, especially when the author relates his experience of visiting a veterans hospital. The way he talks about the death of his elder brother from cancer actually moved me to tears. The chapters that deal with his disfunctional relationship with his sick father are very difficult to read at times. One of the highlights of the book is when he tells the tale of how his paternal grandparents met; it's very sweet throughout, almost like a fairy tale, until the tragic ending which hits you like your nose bone being punched into your brain. As you can probably tell, I have some really mixed feelings about this book but I can't deny it affected me deeply. Apologies if these ramblings make little sense.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Sandham Mathwin

    I give "Hotels, Hospitals and Jails" a very reluctant two stars. Anthony Swofford is a good writer and the book was somewhat entertaining but I really don't like him as a person and found a lot of the book really annoying. I wouldn't have finished it if it were something I were actually reading (I listened to it as an audio book). The main topic of the book is Mr. Swofford's troubled relationship with his father but a big chunk of the book consists of Mr. Swofford bragging about all of the women I give "Hotels, Hospitals and Jails" a very reluctant two stars. Anthony Swofford is a good writer and the book was somewhat entertaining but I really don't like him as a person and found a lot of the book really annoying. I wouldn't have finished it if it were something I were actually reading (I listened to it as an audio book). The main topic of the book is Mr. Swofford's troubled relationship with his father but a big chunk of the book consists of Mr. Swofford bragging about all of the women he's slept with and how he was (direct quote) "a Zen master at infidelity." Wow, "a Zen master at infidelity"...that's something to really be proud of LOL. Either he's a big exaggerator or he must really know how to sweet talk the ladies (or maybe he's really good in bed) because according to him he's never had any trouble finding numerous good looking women to repeatedly have sex with him. Mr. Swofford's first memoir is "Jarhead" which was made into a film starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Not to be rude, but based on his author photo Mr. Swofford is a decent looking guy but he's no Jake Gyllenhaal. I had a tough time believing he got laid as much as he claims he did or that the multitude of women he had sex with were as beautiful as he describes them. He brags about cheating on multiple girlfriends and his first wife and not getting caught, how he had the opportunity to cheat with one (and maybe two women) days before his wedding but turned it down and how a number of his lady friends were disappointed when he settled down and got married for the second time at 40. Of course, once he turned 40 in 2010 he decided that he was tired of all of the partying and screwing around and it was time for him to be a better man, meet the right woman, get married and start a family-all of which he was able to achieve within 6 months of his 40th birthday. Must be nice to spend 20 years acting like a s**t and then have it all fall into place so perfectly...he decided he was ready for family life and like magic there it was! Oh, and of course his wife is not only beautiful but brilliant and artistically talented because he could never marry a woman who wasn't (he had been with other ladies who weren't very talented and apparently it was a big turn off). Bottom line-if you enjoy reading decently written memoirs written by a**holes than I'd recommend "Hotels, Hospitals and Jails." If not, I'd give this one a pass.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anne Kadet

    Asshole son writes about his asshole dad.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nicolemauerman

    This book is about life after success for Anthony Swofford. In this memoir the author discusses his life after writing the popular Jarhead (which was also made into a movie). Basically, he lived a fast life: slept with multiple woman in a day, drove his car so fast and carelessly that he smashed it to pieces outside his home, and drank and did drugs liberally. Although that is the premise of the book the author focuses a lot of writing and energy on his relationship with his father. To say it is This book is about life after success for Anthony Swofford. In this memoir the author discusses his life after writing the popular Jarhead (which was also made into a movie). Basically, he lived a fast life: slept with multiple woman in a day, drove his car so fast and carelessly that he smashed it to pieces outside his home, and drank and did drugs liberally. Although that is the premise of the book the author focuses a lot of writing and energy on his relationship with his father. To say it is strained is a bit of an understatement. Basically the hate and distain for his father drip from the pages. The author spends an entire chapter, 51 pages, dissecting a letter his father wrote to him. This chapter was tedious. Airing ones family history is one thing, but honestly the author does not give enough reasons why he should be so angry at his father, but continuously goes back to the same situation (I don’t want to give much away, but it involves the failure to properly clean the back lawn) as the basis for all of his hatred. I can see Swafford being upset at his dad for his many indiscretions, but the author is not much better at leading a wholesome life. This book almost read like an exercise from a therapist, but I found this book exhausting as the writer has little sympathy from others, but plenty of excuses for his own bad behavior.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Geeta

    The single star says it all. I did try, and I was halfway through a fifty-page dissection of a letter Swofford's father sent to him when I finally gave up, thanks to a book review in the Sunday NYT. It wasn't me, it was the book. Phew. Swofford's hate-love relationship with his father, more hate than love, just wasn't that interesting. Neither was Swofford's use of sex, drugs and alcohol. I got tired of hearing about his awesome libido--I can't imagine a reader who wouldn't. I probably should hav The single star says it all. I did try, and I was halfway through a fifty-page dissection of a letter Swofford's father sent to him when I finally gave up, thanks to a book review in the Sunday NYT. It wasn't me, it was the book. Phew. Swofford's hate-love relationship with his father, more hate than love, just wasn't that interesting. Neither was Swofford's use of sex, drugs and alcohol. I got tired of hearing about his awesome libido--I can't imagine a reader who wouldn't. I probably should have stopped reading when I began to notice his writerly tics--the use of "let's say" one too many times to imply an inexact memory,for example. Let us say no more about this book and move on.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Roger DeBlanck

    The mood Swofford creates in his memoir feels like an adrenaline rush. His recollections are lucid, frenetic, edgy, unabashed, and unapologetic. Each chapter scintillates with explosive prose and the pacing moves fast, but some chapters sting with insight while others, though interesting, feel like fillers. At times the book’s narration feels scattered and fragmented, and at other times its remembrances burst off the page in brilliant, heartbreaking fashion. At its core, the memoir is tremendous The mood Swofford creates in his memoir feels like an adrenaline rush. His recollections are lucid, frenetic, edgy, unabashed, and unapologetic. Each chapter scintillates with explosive prose and the pacing moves fast, but some chapters sting with insight while others, though interesting, feel like fillers. At times the book’s narration feels scattered and fragmented, and at other times its remembrances burst off the page in brilliant, heartbreaking fashion. At its core, the memoir is tremendously honest and equally redemptive—the substance that any good account of one’s life should be. The memoir’s primary focus is on Swofford’s volatile relationship with his father, a former Vietnam veteran. As a former Marine himself, Swofford takes reckoning with his father’s abusive parenting and marital infidelities. Swofford also uses his memoir as a confessional to unload all his own years of reckless debauchery and sexual exploits, a span of time that nearly drove him to suicide. The end result of his emotional journey is a man who finds his soul and who now is a father committed to doing everything in his power not to make the same mistakes as his own father.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Noelle Crisafulli

    I got this book because I remember reading Jarhead and recommended it to my Marine friends. Then, reading this, I remembered that the main character (the author) was a jerk, but I admired him for gutting it out during the first Gulf War and then going on to the Iowa Writers Workshop and getting published. This book just reinforces the idea that he is a jerk - a multi-philandering, money-wasting, drug-taking, irresponsible-drinking, jerk who also happens to have a dad who may be an even bigger je I got this book because I remember reading Jarhead and recommended it to my Marine friends. Then, reading this, I remembered that the main character (the author) was a jerk, but I admired him for gutting it out during the first Gulf War and then going on to the Iowa Writers Workshop and getting published. This book just reinforces the idea that he is a jerk - a multi-philandering, money-wasting, drug-taking, irresponsible-drinking, jerk who also happens to have a dad who may be an even bigger jerk. There are a few poignant stories here - one about injured Marines which turns into a booty call story and one about his paternal grandparents and how they met which actually is sweet - but they could have been stand-alones in The New Yorker and the rest of this could have stayed in his personal journals he no doubt wrote as part of his recovery process. Instead, he gets to blow all his money from the first memoir, and a novel, and gets rewarded by publishing this one. Eh.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christa Parravani

    I was fortunate to receive an early copy of this new memoir. It's blunt and beautiful. Swofford had written a book about fathers and sons and love that is full of gusto and courage. He lays himself bare on the page, risking everything. This book is a must read. I was fortunate to receive an early copy of this new memoir. It's blunt and beautiful. Swofford had written a book about fathers and sons and love that is full of gusto and courage. He lays himself bare on the page, risking everything. This book is a must read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    One of the worst memoirs I've ever read. The author spends the whole book bragging about his sexual prowess and conquests while berating his own father for the same activities. Toward the end he tries to claim moral high ground by claiming (I paraphrase) "I did all my oat-sowing in my thirties, you did it while you were married. I'd never do that to my wife and children." Conveniently IGNORING the fact that he was already married and fucked around on his first wife. This isn't even the worst of One of the worst memoirs I've ever read. The author spends the whole book bragging about his sexual prowess and conquests while berating his own father for the same activities. Toward the end he tries to claim moral high ground by claiming (I paraphrase) "I did all my oat-sowing in my thirties, you did it while you were married. I'd never do that to my wife and children." Conveniently IGNORING the fact that he was already married and fucked around on his first wife. This isn't even the worst of his sins. He endlessly whines about being disciplined 30 years in the past, even reminisces about how he gets together with friends to talk about their fathers. What the shit? You are a grown ass adult who has been to war. Quit bitching and grow up. The author moans about his daddy issues so hard that for the first 200 pages one gets the impression that his mother is dead. Nope. She eventually shows up, with no mention of when why or if they ever divorced. Then there is the section where he disrespects his family by refusing to accept a token award from the Daughters of the Confederacy. This is navel-gazing, self-aggrandizing, braggadocious bullshit from beginning to end by an effete nancy boy. Avoid at all costs.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    If you read Jarhead Anthony Swofford's really good memoir about being a sniper in the first Iraq War it probably would not surprise you that Swofford drank drugged and screwed like a maniac after he became famous and at least for a while rich. This memoir lacks the bite of Jarhead and the rejuvenated Swofford saved by the love of a good woman and a newborn baby seems about 5 years and another memoir away from how he survived the trauma of divorce and still stayed a good father. Swofford's recoll If you read Jarhead Anthony Swofford's really good memoir about being a sniper in the first Iraq War it probably would not surprise you that Swofford drank drugged and screwed like a maniac after he became famous and at least for a while rich. This memoir lacks the bite of Jarhead and the rejuvenated Swofford saved by the love of a good woman and a newborn baby seems about 5 years and another memoir away from how he survived the trauma of divorce and still stayed a good father. Swofford's recollections mostly about his troubled relationship with his father make him seem a little petulant at times.Still Swofford writes a good sentence and some of his adventures are interesting to say the least but Jarhead took you to a fascinating dangerous place, this book just takes you around the corner.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    I picked up this audio book by chance at the library (written by the author of Jarhead), and felt like I was carrying an elephant on my chest as I read. Swofford describes his search for identity, meaning, and reconciliation with his dying father in the years after he returned from serving as a sniper in the Marines. Swofford talks a life half lived consumed by drugs, drinking, expensive cars, and women, which had him on the brink of suicide. At times, I felt exhausted by the constant description I picked up this audio book by chance at the library (written by the author of Jarhead), and felt like I was carrying an elephant on my chest as I read. Swofford describes his search for identity, meaning, and reconciliation with his dying father in the years after he returned from serving as a sniper in the Marines. Swofford talks a life half lived consumed by drugs, drinking, expensive cars, and women, which had him on the brink of suicide. At times, I felt exhausted by the constant descriptions of one night stands, lies and drug abuse and could only imagine how he felt living this way. His interactions with his father were down right painful to listen to but certainly for his sake, needed to said, tackled and wrestled with. There is something about this author l liked so much that I immediately ordered his other books. Sometimes good books are downright gritty.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    incredibly disappointed with this memoir; while i read & liked Jarhead, in H,H,&J i found many of Swofford's introspective instances vapid at best, "as shallow as a shower stall." Swofford's immaturity is perhaps best highlighted in a chapter in which he systematical dismantles and provides counterpoints for an eight page long letter his father sent to him a few years back. this not a man's memoir, but a teenage boy's diary, complete with Oedipal rage and boorish angst. o and by the way, did he m incredibly disappointed with this memoir; while i read & liked Jarhead, in H,H,&J i found many of Swofford's introspective instances vapid at best, "as shallow as a shower stall." Swofford's immaturity is perhaps best highlighted in a chapter in which he systematical dismantles and provides counterpoints for an eight page long letter his father sent to him a few years back. this not a man's memoir, but a teenage boy's diary, complete with Oedipal rage and boorish angst. o and by the way, did he mention that he may have had sex at the foot of his dying brother's bed, for (he so states) the benefit of his dying brother? no? because he did.

  14. 4 out of 5

    K2 -----

    This is a gritty "man's" book. It told this reader about the spoils of war and how military training reprograms the minds of men. PTSD is real and often men who have served their country come back to be hard ass dads, drinkers, and many drifters or homeless. The streets of America are filled with these guys who never recovered fully from their early years in the military. The author wrote the book Jarhead which was made into a movie and gave the author great financial gains. This book is more co This is a gritty "man's" book. It told this reader about the spoils of war and how military training reprograms the minds of men. PTSD is real and often men who have served their country come back to be hard ass dads, drinkers, and many drifters or homeless. The streets of America are filled with these guys who never recovered fully from their early years in the military. The author wrote the book Jarhead which was made into a movie and gave the author great financial gains. This book is more confessional, of a lost boy trapped in a man's body, seeking the comfort of strangers sexually to fill the gap left by the perception of a father's rejection. Swofford's book is like ten years of sitting at a bar listening to the stories of a man who has been hurt by other men and joined the Marines to gain acceptance from a father who knew not how to show his love for his one remaining son. Women play only a background role amid the anger and family dancing. I don't recall who told me to read this but I do think he is a good writer. The story was at times painful to read and one is left to wonder what kind of a father he will be to his child and husband to his wife. I kept thinking of the Great Santini which he refers to more than once in this tome.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Szatkowski

    As other reviewers have said, the author does not come across a likable fellow. His post script attempts to explain that, but I was left somewhat suspicious of a 'sudden' change that. The reason for the low rating is twofold - one, the technical style itself. The narrative jumps around making the book difficult to follow. The effect is more 'stream of consciousness' that clear reflection. As to the substance of the narrative, I can only say that I feel pity for author, but no admiration. I would As other reviewers have said, the author does not come across a likable fellow. His post script attempts to explain that, but I was left somewhat suspicious of a 'sudden' change that. The reason for the low rating is twofold - one, the technical style itself. The narrative jumps around making the book difficult to follow. The effect is more 'stream of consciousness' that clear reflection. As to the substance of the narrative, I can only say that I feel pity for author, but no admiration. I would note, as a theologian, the wisdom of the injunction given to parents at baptism to keep their children safe from the poison of sin. Lest you think that this is a mere phrase, the effect of sin and the prevision of the divine commands is shown in the destruction in the author's life.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    The title got my attention. I still can't believe I read this all the way through; a memoir of an ex-military man whining through drugs, booze, fast cars and women . . . who thinks his Viet Nam vet father hates him . . . not exactly my style but it was well written with humor and just enough self deprecation to keep my attention - hoping for something worth hearing. And it does end well with a good woman and children - every man's dream come true! The title got my attention. I still can't believe I read this all the way through; a memoir of an ex-military man whining through drugs, booze, fast cars and women . . . who thinks his Viet Nam vet father hates him . . . not exactly my style but it was well written with humor and just enough self deprecation to keep my attention - hoping for something worth hearing. And it does end well with a good woman and children - every man's dream come true!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Warren II

    Pretty good. Weaves an interesting pattern through Swofford’s life, particularly centering around his relationship with his father and with women. Some of the sex scenes seemed overly gratuitous, but weren’t overwhelming. As a big fan of Jarhead, I was hoping it touched more on his immediate return from the Gulf War, but it mostly was about Swofford after the book went big.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Klemm

    Interesting to listen to a memoir about a man with a not uncommon love-hate relationship with his father and how the remembrance or interpretation of past events can be seen so differently. The author is very candid about his destructive behaviors…luckily, he seems to have overcome them and hopefully will honor that the rest of his life.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro Mujica

    After Swofford's lukewarm first novel, Exit A, it's a pleasure to pore over his well-established memoirist prose again. Like a light continuation to Jarhead, Anthony Swofford covers the self-destructive lifestyle of a veteran and author who juggles lovers, drugs, and his career, all while butting heads with his terminally ill father—a man who Swofford wishes he took less from. As the title hints, he stumbles through a bachelor's life—from woman to pill, to his father's RV, to the drunk tank, to After Swofford's lukewarm first novel, Exit A, it's a pleasure to pore over his well-established memoirist prose again. Like a light continuation to Jarhead, Anthony Swofford covers the self-destructive lifestyle of a veteran and author who juggles lovers, drugs, and his career, all while butting heads with his terminally ill father—a man who Swofford wishes he took less from. As the title hints, he stumbles through a bachelor's life—from woman to pill, to his father's RV, to the drunk tank, to the Bethesda Naval Clinic. Each place and person he runs into reflects on how Swofford makes sense of (or avoids) his world. His promiscuity and self-professed mastery of sleeping with different women in the same hotel takes a toll on his character. He develops from a Scheidenjäger (roughly translated as “pussy hound,” a nickname his father received when he was younger), to a shallow lover, and finally to a father. Part of the conflict Swofford has with his father comes from this transition and his realization that they both traveled the same road in their own ways. He compares his experiences in the Gulf to the Global War on Terror and the marines that end up in hospital beds and wheelchairs all over the U.S. The scene in Bethesda is treated with the same unrelenting grit presented in Jarhead, but with the clarity of a distant observer, taking in the faces of frazzled mothers and the forced faith and posturing of marines too injured to rejoin the fight. The hospital visit wakes up the sniper he used to be (in some ways still is) and he “smelled burned sand and scorched asphalt” on the ride home. He doesn't talk about PTSD or any symptoms he might have, but his lifestyle choices at the time, and the flash of war memories, show that his short time in the Corps made a lasting impression. Moments like these shine on their own, yet the meat of the story is built around the tumultuous father-and-son relationship, which misses slightly less than it hits. As the stories progress, his father becomes less of an antagonist and the linchpin for “Tone's” struggles growing up and more of a victim. For the second half of the memoir, his illness and nearing death are given enough detail that they become larger issues than the decades-past mistreatment of his family. In fact, Swofford's bland scrutinizing of his father's letters and his relentless anger towards him make him out to be an unsympathetic narrator. For the second half, Swofford takes the role of antagonist. This doesn't quite let up until the last thirty or so pages, when he becomes a father himself, and there's a flash of a resolution on one of their RV trips. The turning point is earned, but it didn't have the gravitas that it deserved for a balance between conflict and resolution (an issue I also found with the final scene in his novel). Other critics have argued that Swofford is self-indulgent and I have to disagree (although his father's letters could have stayed in a shoe box somewhere), but because this is a memoir about transitioning, and that's something I am personally involved with as a fellow marine veteran. If Swofford's prose stuck out to you in Jarhead, then H,H & J will interest you.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    Probably most people who pick this up will be expecting 'Jarhead Revisited', and this is not the case. The book is a chronicle of the author's experiences 'after' he attained literary fame and fortune. However, many unresolved issues prevented him from enjoying his new life, and first and foremost was the fractured relationship with his father. This book is Anthony's attempt to rectify the situation, but it almost becomes a chronicle of the conflict between two extremely opinionated individuals Probably most people who pick this up will be expecting 'Jarhead Revisited', and this is not the case. The book is a chronicle of the author's experiences 'after' he attained literary fame and fortune. However, many unresolved issues prevented him from enjoying his new life, and first and foremost was the fractured relationship with his father. This book is Anthony's attempt to rectify the situation, but it almost becomes a chronicle of the conflict between two extremely opinionated individuals who disagree on whether young Tony's face was placed 'near' the pile of dog poop, or 'in' the pile of dog poop. And, also there is a major difference of opinion over the terms of a borrowed automobile. Also, and maybe due to his family issues, Swofford seems to be drowning in a tidal wave of women with the accompanying incidents with alcohol and drugs. I thought that as a memoir, it was a bit over-the-top, but it certainly made for an exciting read. Conflict between fathers and adult sons is never easy, and this book certainly highlights this fact. At the end, I felt like shouting 'Hey, give it a rest', but I also realized that it's impossible for him to let it go. And, I guess that is the point.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I had read Jarhead and was interested in seeing what had transpired in Anthony Swofford's life since his best selling book was made into a movie. Swofford drags us along on nearly a decade of drugs, promiscuity, infidelity and other unsafe behaviors. It's kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion. He also is trying and trying again to solve his hate/love/hate/love relationship with his father. In this book he details his family history as he looks for more differences between himself an I had read Jarhead and was interested in seeing what had transpired in Anthony Swofford's life since his best selling book was made into a movie. Swofford drags us along on nearly a decade of drugs, promiscuity, infidelity and other unsafe behaviors. It's kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion. He also is trying and trying again to solve his hate/love/hate/love relationship with his father. In this book he details his family history as he looks for more differences between himself and his father than similarities. We get background on his father and his upbringing. Participation in the military and war shape both Swofford and his father. After hanging in there through dissolution, despair and depression, a series of three road trips allow us to watch the son and father as they interact. Swofford finally acknowledges the similarities he shares with his father and vows to engage in a more positive future. As a reader, I wonder where he'll venture next as an author.

  22. 4 out of 5

    SA

    I more or less read anything when it comes to Swofford. This book was a heart-wringer, and it was meant to be; his memoir of his own wrung-out heart laid across the page. People expecting the heir to Jarhead are likely to be disappointed, but there's a lot to dig into here. The frank way he deals with his own success and celebrity is clearly supposed to inspire disregard; it evidentially inspired disregard and no small self-loathing in Swofford himself. Anyone who has ever had a strained relatio I more or less read anything when it comes to Swofford. This book was a heart-wringer, and it was meant to be; his memoir of his own wrung-out heart laid across the page. People expecting the heir to Jarhead are likely to be disappointed, but there's a lot to dig into here. The frank way he deals with his own success and celebrity is clearly supposed to inspire disregard; it evidentially inspired disregard and no small self-loathing in Swofford himself. Anyone who has ever had a strained relationship with a parent or relative will recognize a lot of what Swofford deals with, confronts, fucks up, tries again, and fucks up twice in this book. And anyone who has ever dealt with post-soldier, post-combat individuals will recognize a lot of the mental gymnastics in here as well. I can't give an unqualified recommendation of this book; it is not for everyone. But it was most assuredly for me, and I drank in every page like the well whiskey you keep ordering long after the bartender should have called you a cab. I await further books with alacrity.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Swofford returns to the memoir with this exploration into the father-son dynamic via the capital-r, capital-t Road Trip. Except that the actual Road Trip is but a small piece of a much larger, much less packaged tableau of events in and out of Swofford's rise to literary fame post Jarhead. This is a fast read, and extremely interesting if you've ever wondered what happens when a serious writer tries to move like Mick Jagger (answer: they crash, burn, sign a lot of irresponsible leases, stock up Swofford returns to the memoir with this exploration into the father-son dynamic via the capital-r, capital-t Road Trip. Except that the actual Road Trip is but a small piece of a much larger, much less packaged tableau of events in and out of Swofford's rise to literary fame post Jarhead. This is a fast read, and extremely interesting if you've ever wondered what happens when a serious writer tries to move like Mick Jagger (answer: they crash, burn, sign a lot of irresponsible leases, stock up on wine like Y2K all over again, and ruin pretty every relationship around them). Swofford's prose is sharp, moves ever along, and if you're looking for a quick read, you'll eat this one right up. A lot of good prose here, but the best line of the entire memoir actually caught me off guard three pages before the end, and funnily enough has nothing to do with Swofford's pops, and everything to do with his daughter-to-be: "The baby sat on Christa's bladder like a queen on a throne..."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris Campion

    Swofford does it again with a fantastic memoir. Post "Jarhead," he finds himself with too much money and an urge for drinking, drug use, and endless sexual escapades. However, he soon finds that his life is empty and without substance. There is also the nagging fact that his father (a man whom Swofford has many issues with) is dying. And before that, Swofford's older brother has died. Feeling like he wants to try and make sense of he and his father's fractured and uneasy relationship, he goes on Swofford does it again with a fantastic memoir. Post "Jarhead," he finds himself with too much money and an urge for drinking, drug use, and endless sexual escapades. However, he soon finds that his life is empty and without substance. There is also the nagging fact that his father (a man whom Swofford has many issues with) is dying. And before that, Swofford's older brother has died. Feeling like he wants to try and make sense of he and his father's fractured and uneasy relationship, he goes on road trips with him to try and got to the bottom of their friction. In the end, Swofford goes through a sort-of midlife bildungsroman in which he learns to accept his past as well as imbrace and grow from his present and future lot in life. An excellent read with many ups and downs, humorous moments, and crisp literary narration. Swofford is one of the best!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Corinne

    I didn't read Jarhead or see the film, but I went to a reading Swofford did in Sacramento and was moved by his words - and by seeing him with his wife and child. It seemed very obvious to me that having them in his life shifted Swofford for the better, and I wanted to read how he got from rock bottom to where he is now. This memoir tells that story beautifully. He is direct and unapologetic when he tells of his sexcapades, his drinking & drug use, and his hatred of his father. This book may make I didn't read Jarhead or see the film, but I went to a reading Swofford did in Sacramento and was moved by his words - and by seeing him with his wife and child. It seemed very obvious to me that having them in his life shifted Swofford for the better, and I wanted to read how he got from rock bottom to where he is now. This memoir tells that story beautifully. He is direct and unapologetic when he tells of his sexcapades, his drinking & drug use, and his hatred of his father. This book may make you flinch. And if you're looking for a tidy conclusion about how he and his dad have the best relationship ever, or how Swofford became a better man because of his experiences, forget it. Like everyone else, he's still figuring it all out. The difference is that he's not afraid to write about it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    "I am often asked about the wars. And I say that the wars are a waste of human life on both sides and a deep strategic blunder. But I had never sat in a room with a wounded marine. And I needed to do that. But I am no clearer on what the wars mean." "....for men trying to bring life into the world? Two would be engaged in a fistfight, one would be doing whiskey shots in the corner, and the other would be on the floor in a fetal position, weeping." "Mothers are immensely forgivable creatures." "A st "I am often asked about the wars. And I say that the wars are a waste of human life on both sides and a deep strategic blunder. But I had never sat in a room with a wounded marine. And I needed to do that. But I am no clearer on what the wars mean." "....for men trying to bring life into the world? Two would be engaged in a fistfight, one would be doing whiskey shots in the corner, and the other would be on the floor in a fetal position, weeping." "Mothers are immensely forgivable creatures." "A storm also measures the man: will you protect your family when the storm shows? In the life of a family many storms threaten and some arrive full force."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Patti K

    This 2012 memoir follows Swofford's first, Jarhead. It is a machismo tour de force of his letdown after success and wealth arrivd from his first book. Too many drugs, alcohol, and sex had him spiralling out of control. He fairly boasts of his "downfall" before confronting his contentious relationship with his father. That part is worthwhile and a fierce portrait of how connected we become with our parents, even if in rage. The ending is a happy one, but nearly sounds too fortuitous and barely earned. This 2012 memoir follows Swofford's first, Jarhead. It is a machismo tour de force of his letdown after success and wealth arrivd from his first book. Too many drugs, alcohol, and sex had him spiralling out of control. He fairly boasts of his "downfall" before confronting his contentious relationship with his father. That part is worthwhile and a fierce portrait of how connected we become with our parents, even if in rage. The ending is a happy one, but nearly sounds too fortuitous and barely earned. That is the way of the world more often than not.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Tony Swofford is a brutally honest and good story teller. Tony joins the military to get away from a bad home life. Returns from the Gulf War, goes to college to become a writer and then writes Jarhead. This becomes a best selling book and movie. He makes obscene amounts of money - is out of control with spending, drinking, drugging and juggling sexual relationships with several women at a time. Not a very likable or dependable person. This book is his journey with coming to terms with his anger Tony Swofford is a brutally honest and good story teller. Tony joins the military to get away from a bad home life. Returns from the Gulf War, goes to college to become a writer and then writes Jarhead. This becomes a best selling book and movie. He makes obscene amounts of money - is out of control with spending, drinking, drugging and juggling sexual relationships with several women at a time. Not a very likable or dependable person. This book is his journey with coming to terms with his anger towards his father and himself.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robin Schoenthaler

    Just couldn't take it, quit halfway through (a rarity for me). It slays me when men (still!) refer to the women as "the" -- "the" flight attendant, "the woman in the bed," "the girl in San Francisco." I have a strong desire to see the world through a variety of men's eyes, but I have an even stronger sense of not wanting to waste time on books that make my stomach clench. So back to the stacks with this one. (A turn of phrase I'm guessing he might twist in some misogynist fashion, but perhaps no Just couldn't take it, quit halfway through (a rarity for me). It slays me when men (still!) refer to the women as "the" -- "the" flight attendant, "the woman in the bed," "the girl in San Francisco." I have a strong desire to see the world through a variety of men's eyes, but I have an even stronger sense of not wanting to waste time on books that make my stomach clench. So back to the stacks with this one. (A turn of phrase I'm guessing he might twist in some misogynist fashion, but perhaps not).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    I really, really, really loved Jarhead. And I really like Swofford's writing-- he's fast and his voice cuts right through the page. But I have to wonder where his editor was on this. It seems like what would've been two or three excellent essays (and one of them, about meeting his wife, he read for a Moth Story Hour and was great) were stretched out to make a book. A lot of brain dumping and not enough real, cohesive content for me. A bit of a disappointment. I really, really, really loved Jarhead. And I really like Swofford's writing-- he's fast and his voice cuts right through the page. But I have to wonder where his editor was on this. It seems like what would've been two or three excellent essays (and one of them, about meeting his wife, he read for a Moth Story Hour and was great) were stretched out to make a book. A lot of brain dumping and not enough real, cohesive content for me. A bit of a disappointment.

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