One of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year
A daughter's unforgettable memoir of her wild and haunted father, a man whose war never really ended.
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, Falling Through the Earth, "makes plain that the horror of war doesn't end in the trenches" (Vanity Fair).
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.