Hello to All That: A Memoir of War, Zoloft, and Peace

Overview

An off-the-wall, heartbreaking, and often hilarious memoir of a correspondent reporting from the front lines while also battling his lifelong nemesis-chronic depression

His own chemistry was his worst enemy, and it took John Falk to some very strange places-from Garden City, Long Island, to sniper-infested Sarajevo during the Bosnian bloodbath. But through it all, in the face of chronic depression, he kept reaching out for the life he'd always ...

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Overview

An off-the-wall, heartbreaking, and often hilarious memoir of a correspondent reporting from the front lines while also battling his lifelong nemesis-chronic depression

His own chemistry was his worst enemy, and it took John Falk to some very strange places-from Garden City, Long Island, to sniper-infested Sarajevo during the Bosnian bloodbath. But through it all, in the face of chronic depression, he kept reaching out for the life he'd always wanted. Hello to All That is his story-crazed, comic, poignant, suspenseful, hopeful.

Falk was an average Long Island kid, until depression left him ashamed and trapped behind an impenetrable chemical wall. Barely surviving on "chin-up" tips from his big, loyal, boisterous family, Falk tried to fight his disease-or hide it. But by twenty-four, he was alone, living on books by war correspondents, their adventures his only escape. Then he found a blue pill called Zoloft and set out on a mission to make his own name as a correspondent during one of the most dangerous conflicts in recent memory. Falk's journey has never been predictable, and neither is his moving, outrageous, and sometimes frightening memoir.

Here is the riveting tale of a man's lifelong battle-the struggle to defeat his greatest enemy and to connect, cure himself, and finally live.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hello To All That is a brilliant, moving, hillarious, and altogether completely original memoir that will undoubtably go down as an instant classic. John Falk has somehow written a book about war and the even more terrifying darkness within him that manages to be both poigant and irresistably funny."

-Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm

Publishers Weekly
Afflicted with chronic depression from childhood, Falk thought his troubles were over when he discovered Zoloft at age 25. But it wasn't until he chose the hazardous career of war journalism in Bosnia in the early 1990s that he escaped his "pointless" life. In this raucous, zany memoir, the author explains how he chose that profession after reading books of extraordinary lives and deciding adventure would restore him to life. Courting chaos and death in a place where sanity matters little would, he thought, do the trick. War reporters were "free agents who answered to no one and lived each day like it was their last." Falk intercuts wild, amusing scenes of his troubled 1980s Long Island youth with the uncontrolled mayhem of Sarajevo, where his instincts as a reporter often failed him and got him into tricky situations (e.g., being mistaken for a spy). However, while maniacally juggling his meds and daily NBC radio stories, he experienced the futility of war and matured as a man and a journalist. Falk's wise, comical testament ends on a joyous note of a marriage and a Details magazine article that morphed into a Peabody Award-winning HBO movie, Shot Through the Heart, making his story an unlikely personal triumph over depression. Agent, Stuart Krichevsky. (Jan. 4) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this compelling book, freelance journalist Falk recounts his descent into depression, his successful treatment, and his subsequent experiences as a reporter in war-torn Bosnia. At age 12, depression brought his once-happy childhood to a sudden end. While he soon learns to present a "normal" face to the world, neither his own efforts nor his family's love can conquer the hidden pain that drives him to the brink of suicide. In desperation, he agrees to try antidepressants and is stunned when Zoloft provides the relief that love and willpower could not. After emerging from more than a decade of depression, he becomes a war correspondent, travels to Bosnia, and moves in with an initially wary Sarajevan family who slowly comes to love him. Despite the inner torment he describes and the war he reports, Falk's story is ultimately uplifting. He is a gifted and often humorous writer whose words bring alive the human connections at stake in his struggles. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/04.]-Susan Pease, Univ. of Massachusetts Lib., Amherst Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A twist on the usual Prozac memoirs and war-reporter memoirs: Falk offers both of same in this absorbing account of his battle with depression and his time as a freelance foreign correspondent in Sarajevo. Rather than limit himself to tales of childhood despair or the challenges of being a new reporter in a war zone, Falk combines the two. As a boy, the author felt content, loved, and connected to his world. But that all ended one morning when he was 12 and woke up to find himself emotionally cut off from all he had previously cared for, for no reason he could recognize. He spent the next 12 years putting up a good front, until he finally began taking Zoloft and almost miraculously felt like himself again. Becoming a correspondent in a war zone seemed the best way to rejoin the human race and experience some of the intensity of life he'd missed for so long. So Falk scared up some press credentials and flew to Sarajevo, landing smack in the middle of the hostilities of 1993. His portrait of the ruined city, the confusion, and the humanity is rich and vivid, and the characters he introduces are beautifully realized: Dina, a straight-A student who studies through the war and works two jobs; Vlado, an "antisniper" (a shooter who targets snipers only) whose story of divided loyalties is particularly searing. Even in the midst of war and depression, Falk manages to keep things entertaining with highly readable prose and many tales of professional mistakes. He almost befriends a ruthless black-marketeer, and later escapes being mistaken for a spy when his interrogators decide he's simply too inept to be in espionage (during the questioning, while smoking, he'd accidentally burned a hole in thecrotch of his jeans). A remarkably warm, surprisingly moving, and timely portrait of daily life in a war zone. Agency: Stuart Krichevsky/Stuart Krichevsky Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805072181
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/4/2005
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 10.24 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Among psychologists today, John Falk is known as patient X and the story of his recovery from chronic depression is used to inspire hope in other patients. He is also a law school graduate and freelance journalist who survived the rough and tumble of reporting from the front in Sarajevo. An article he wrote for Details magazine, entitled "Shot Through the Heart," became an HBO movie and won a Peabody Award for Best Cable Movie of the Year. He lives in Hillsdale, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

From Hello to All That:

There had been a point in my life when my greatest goal had been simply to make it to the next morning. I was severely depressed, completely empty, no connection to anything. It was like being trapped in a glass jar. By 1991, I was living in my parents' attic. I had cut myself off from everyone I knew, slept all day, and spent my nights watching late-night Oprah reruns.

I cannot say how it was that I came to find myself rummaging through a crawl space that night looking for that old shotgun, only that the idea had become irresistible. Perhaps I was tempted just to see if holding it would somehow change things. When I found it, it didn't disappoint. It felt solid, powerful, like a magic wand. Holding it, I didn't feel like a trapped rat anymore. Here was a way out. But I still had enough fight that night to put it away. Its day was in the future, though. I had entered the endgame.

That night I lay on the roof for hours, crying, not for me, but for my family, especially my mother, who always made me promise her that I would, no matter what, hang on. "Trust me," she would say. "It will work out." But now I realized that I was going to have to break that promise. At dawn, I finally crawled back inside my bedroom. Sometime later I realized I couldn't quit before I gave her a chance. I went downstairs and, trembling, I asked my mother the simplest and most difficult of favors: Please help me.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    touching insightful autobiography

    This touching autobiography wins on two fronts as John Falk paints quite a self portrait of his depressing teen years culminating with the miracle of Zoloft and his twenties as a journalist in Sarajevo in 1993, the heart of the hostilities. Both accounts rivet the audience as Mr. Falk explains that he was a happy preadolescent raised in a loving home when suddenly at twelve he became depressed and stayed that way for a dozen years until Zoloft gave him back his life. To celebrate his return from the living dead, John becomes a war correspondent. This segment of the book relates how the devastated city is home to people trying to stay alive. These human interest stories are touching and warm with hopes that those like a working student made it. Mr. Falk provides a heartfelt remarkable memoir of a person surviving two wars, a personal one that medicine cures and the other caused by human atrocities that should shame everyone.--- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2005

    Say Hello to This Book

    Hello to All That is a well written book that goes to the heart of the underlying biochemistry involved in much mental illness. The message--it's no one's fault.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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