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Falling through the Earth: A Memoirby Danielle Trussoni
A memoir I would put up against any in recent memory. Full of heartbreak and love, this portrait of a father-daughter relationship lives in the mind far beyond the turn of the last page. Trussoni's gift transcends all; far from a rote recitation of details, a watercolor picture emerges, evoking the feeling and emotions of that time. Highly recommended.
Synopses & Reviews
A daughter's unforgettable memoir of her wild and haunted father, a man whose war never really ended.
From her father, Danielle Trussoni learned rock and roll, how to avoid the cops, and never to shy away from a fight. Growing up, she was fascinated by stories of his adventures as a tunnel rat in Vietnam, where he risked his life crawling headfirst into holes to search for American POWs held underground. Ultimately, Danielle came to believe that when the man she adored drank too much, beat up strangers, or mistreated her mother, it was because the horror of those tunnels still lived inside him. Eventually her mom gave up and left, taking all the kids except one: Danielle. When everyone else walked away and washed their hands of Dan Trussoni, Danielle would not. Now she tells their story.
As Danielle trails her father through nights at Roscoe's Vogue Bar, scores of wild girlfriends, and years of bad dreams, a vivid and poignant portrait of a father-daughter relationship unlike any other emerges. Although the Trussonis are fiercely committed to each other, theirs is a love story filled with anger, stubbornness, outrageous behavior, and battle scars that never completely heal.
Beautifully told in a voice that is defiant, funny, and yet sometimes heartbreaking, Falling through the Earth immediately joins the ranks of those classic memoirs whose characters imprint themselves indelibly into readers' lives.
Falling through the Earth is the winner of the Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award for 2005/06. It was chosen by Marilynne Robinson and James A. McPherson. The award is given every two years by the workshop to honor the best book written by a graduate of the workshop during this time.
"Trussoni's memoir tells many potentially interesting stories: of her father's traumatic experiences as a Vietnam tunnel rat; of her own smalltown Wisconsin childhood in the 1980s with a volatile dad; of her flirtations with delinquency; and of her family history of implied criminal links (involving 'the Italian mafia, drug smuggling, and a Chicago pizza joint'). As Trussoni's sister suggests, these are all stories of unconventional lives worthy of "an episode on Jerry Springer.' Alas, the book Trussoni has produced, while well-crafted, as befits an Iowa Writers' Workshop alum and award winner, is deadly dull. Told in fashionably nonlinear style, these juxtaposed tales become a hodge-podge shoving the reader about, from hanging out at Roscoe's bar with Trussoni's father, to purchasing a notebook, to getting a bad haircut. Her brother gets hit by a car, her sister gets pregnant after a one-night stand, her father gets cancer. Off and on, a war souvenir skull surfaces, as does a stalker, adding mystery without eventual clarity. In this awkward weave of her father's tale with her self-absorbed growing-up memoir, Trussoni sacrifices emphasis and dilutes empathy." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Trussoni has taken an extended trip to hell and come back with treasures from that drunken, burning, broken place....Even if this book were not urgently important and devastatingly timely, I'd still urge you to read it for the sheer triumph of the author's gift." Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
"Trussoni's memoir is a richly textured history of her father's war and the long term effects his service had on her and her family....This is an important and harrowing story." Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
"[A] superb memoir. [Trussoni] has composed a modern-day father-quest true-life story and by doing so she has bridged the gap between those who fought in the Vietnam War and those who grew up in the following decades. She writes for those who remain slightly afraid yet always driven by a need to understand others' psychic convulsions. Her book is a captivating triumph." Michael James, The Capital Times (Madison)
"The affection, respect and humor [Trussoni] brings to the task of revealing this complicated individual is testimony both to her creative abilities and to the generosity of her spirit." Kathryn Harrison, New York Times Book Review
"Beautifully written and honestly rendered, [Falling through the Earth] shows how war reverberates through the families of survivors: the failed marriages, scarred children and misdirected lives." Dan Pope, Hartford Courant
"All three story lines are intertwined into an extremely engaging, novel-like narrative that leaves an indelible imprint on the heart and mind." Library Journal
"One of the best portrayals in recent memory of what it's like to grow up in a screwed-up, working-class family." Booklist
"Danielle Trussoni unflinchingly explores a daughter's love for her flawed father and confronts the demons that haunt them both....
"Like the fearless father she takes after, Danielle Trussoni tunnels at her story from both ends: Through the rabbit hole of childhood, she explores a tumultuous divorce. From the trench of adulthood, she leads us through a country still poisoned by war. But Falling through the Earth has an innermost chamber. It is a place of profound depth and beauty, where Trussoni unearths Trussoni herself." Koren Zailckas, author of Smashed
One of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year
From her charismatic father, Danielle Trussoni learned how to rock and roll, outrun the police, and never shy away from a fight. Spending hour upon hour trailing him around the bars and honky-tonks of La Crosse, Wisconsin, young Danielle grew up fascinated by stories of her dad's adventures as a tunnel rat in Vietnam, where he'd risked his life crawling head first into narrow passageways to search for American POWs.
A vivid and poignant portrait of a daughter's relationship with her father, this funny, heartbreaking, and beautifully written memoir "makes plain that the horror of war doesn't end in the trenches" (Vanity Fair).
About the Author
Danielle Trussoni, who grew up and now lives in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. On the strength of the first 20 pages she ever wrote (which became part of this book) she was admitted to the Iowa Writers' Workshop from which she graduated in May 2002.
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