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 memoir that raises essential questions about masculinity, about fathers and sons, and about love.
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Intimate and Dark
- Steph R
Very interesting, with nothing hidden or held back
I was very impressed that Anthony Swofford held nothing back, including his own negativity. It would have been easy for him to write about what everyone else has done wrong while ignoring his own faults. Instead, he tells of his own misdeeds, along with those of others around him, with no attempt to gloss over or rationalize them. I rarely hear (or read) such honesty. There were many times throughout the book where I thought the author might be the most miserable bastard I've ever read a book from. He literally seemed completely miserable and completely detached from caring about others. Most people would try to hide these types of things, or maybe they'd be blind to them, but he was not blind nor did he try to hide anything.
The author has a couple of epiphanies that change the course of his life. He didn't dwell on them very much but it's clear that these decisions were turning points.
I also listened to Jarhead. I would say this compares similarly, and for the same reasons.
No, I would never listen to an 8 hour book in one sitting. Besides, I listen while driving to/from work and I don't have an 8 hour commute.
If you liked Jarhead there's a good chance you'll like this book as well, but keep in mind it's not focused on Swofford's military experience at all. So if that's what you liked about his first book, you may not find what you're looking for here.
Also, another reviewer mentioned they didn't like Swofford's reading, I couldn't disagree more. Not to say he is a great reader and should go into reading audio books as a career, but he's reading his own memoir. Who better to convey whatever emotion he had about an event, than he himself? The emotion I got from most of the book was misery, and maybe that's exactly the emotion Swofford felt through most of these events. Or maybe that's just how he speaks. In either case, I'd still much rather hear his story from him than from a professional reader. If it was a novel then I might have felt differently, but this was not a novel.
- Michael Willis