Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails: A Memoir [NOOK Book]

Overview

The publication of Jarhead launched a new career for Anthony Swofford, earning him accolades for its gritty and unexpected portraits of the soldiers who fought in the Gulf War. It spawned a Hollywood movie. It made Swofford famous and wealthy. It also nearly killed him.

Now with the same unremitting intensity he brought to his first memoir, Swofford describes his search for identity, meaning, and a reconciliation with his dying father in the ...
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Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails: A Memoir

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Overview

The publication of Jarhead launched a new career for Anthony Swofford, earning him accolades for its gritty and unexpected portraits of the soldiers who fought in the Gulf War. It spawned a Hollywood movie. It made Swofford famous and wealthy. It also nearly killed him.

Now with the same unremitting intensity he brought to his first memoir, Swofford describes his search for identity, meaning, and a reconciliation with his dying father in the years after he returned from serving as a sniper in the Marines. Adjusting to life after war, he watched his older brother succumb to cancer and his first marriage disintegrate, leading him to pursue a lifestyle in Manhattan that brought him to the brink of collapse. Consumed by drugs, drinking, expensive cars, and women, Swofford lost almost everything and everyone that mattered to him.

When a son is in trouble he hopes to turn to his greatest source of wisdom and support: his father. But Swofford and his father didn't exactly have that kind of relationship. The key, he realized, was to confront the man-a philandering, once hard-drinking, now terminally ill Vietnam vet he had struggled hard to understand and even harder to love. The two stubborn, strong-willed war vets embarked on a series of RV trips that quickly became a kind of reckoning in which Swofford took his father to task for a lifetime of infidelities and abuse. For many years Swofford had considered combat the decisive test of a man's greatness. With the understanding that came from these trips and the fateful encounter that took him to a like-minded woman named Christa, Swofford began to understand that becoming a father himself might be the ultimate measure of his life.

Elegantly weaving his family's past with his own present-nights of excess and sexual conquest, visits with injured war veterans, and a near-fatal car crash-Swofford casts a courageous, insistent eye on both his father and himself in order to make sense of what his military service meant, and to decide, after nearly ending it, what his life can and should become as a man, a veteran, and a father.

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  • Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails
    Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails  

Editorial Reviews

USA Today
"A gritty, intense and wrenching account..."
San Francisco Chronicle
"Anthony Swofford has ruined me. His latest book is a memoir, Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails. And it's all guts. I laughed. I cried. I sat in somber silence. I could not put this book down. As deadlines escalate around me, other books need to be read, blurb requests are stacking up, it doesn't matter, it's the Anthony Swofford show...He splays it out. He's unrelenting. This is a book many authors have to wait until their fathers die or until someone dies to be this honest at portraying their families."
The Huffington Post
"Swofford shares brutally honest stories about his family, random sex, hard drinking and his difficult relationship with his father, as he tries to cope with life and post-traumatic stress...Swofford is an often-gripping narrator, at his best both angry and charismatic without apology...The chapter about visiting a veterans' hospital has rightly been singled out as a remarkable piece of writing."
Associated Press Staff
"[S]earing...Swofford's prose remains as strong as ever. And his insights into his own past and present strike an honest chord."
Sacramento News & Review
"Anthony Swofford is a writer of painful and painfully powerful prose."
Bookpage.com
"Join Anthony Swofford on his journey toward true manhood....HOTELS, HOSPITALS, AND JAILS is a powerful and sometimes painful book to read. The writing is short, staccato and rhythmic. More importantly, it's honest."
NPR.org
"Swofford is a remarkable writer, and Hotels might prove to be a timely reminder that for soldiers who have served our country overseas, returning home sometimes marks the start of yet another long battle."
The Daily Beast
"If perhaps some conversations are recollected here with incredible level of accuracy, the narrative is better off for it. Swofford has put in some hard years, and he writes of his past with a grit and flair for noir that can only be honed with experience."
The Boston Globe
"Remarkable....By dint of its jumpy nature, 'Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails' doesn't go into enough depth in explaining how Swofford righted his life. But his writing is too good and engaging for that to prevent the book from being a worthy entry in the pantheon of dysfunctional-family memoirs."
Michiko Kakutani
"Intense.... As 'Jarhead' (2003), his harrowing account of serving with the Marines during the first gulf war, so eloquently attests, Mr. Swofford can write like he drives: fast and furious and profane, a poet's touch control channeling all the testosterone and adrenaline into a high-test, high-wire performance. His new memoir... reminds us of the power of Mr. Swofford's prose - his ability to conjure a mood, a time, a place with a flick of his pen."
The New Yorker
"Swofford's brisk storytelling, deadpan humor, and appealing swagger."
Tim O'Brien
"Anthony Swofford has given us a complex, unflinching, loving, and sometimes harrowing memoir. Candid as a locomotive, written with fury and grace, this book has a dangerous, achingly desperate personality of its own. I was shaken and moved."
Sebastian Junger
"Swofford has done an amazing job showing how war plays out in peoples' lives for years after they come home. I read this book with the eagerness one usually reserves for fiction. It is a tremendous look into one man's attempt to replace war with life."
Karl Marlantes
"Following Swofford's struggle to come to terms with a difficult father and his experience of war- and the two are intertwined-we soon realize that this writer is making easier our struggles against leading a parent's life instead of our own. He blazes a trail for all of us with honesty and skill, gem after gem. Swofford is quite simply the master of the metaphor. The chapter describing his visit to Bethesda Naval Hospital will break your heart and it should."
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times

ACCLAIM FOR JARHEAD

"By turns profane and lyrical, swaggering and ruminative, Jarhead is not only the most powerful memoir to emerge thus far from the last gulf war, but also a searing contribution to the literature of combat."

Sacramento Bee
"A bayonet in the eye...brutal and unforgettable."
Entertainment Weekly
"A brutally honest memoir... gut-wrenching frontline reportage."
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Jarhead is a stunning success... Swofford has created what may become a classic of modern war literature, a Gulf War addition to the shelf holding Vietnam narratives such as Michael Herr's Dispatches and Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War."
Newsweek
"If you want a clear-eyed sense of what might be going on today in the staging areas surrounding Iraq, a view stripped of cant, hypocrisy, and the bloated lies of officialdom, read Jarhead."
New York Review of Books
"Without war there would be no war stories, and Jarhead is one of the best-loopy, stoned, its prose is like three heavy metal bands playing three separate songs at once. It honors the literature of men at arms."
From the Publisher
"Without war there would be no war stories, and Jarhead is one of the best-loopy, stoned, its prose is like three heavy metal bands playing three separate songs at once. It honors the literature of men at arms."—New York Review of Books
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455506729
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 848,829
  • File size: 629 KB

Meet the Author

Anthony Swofford
Anthony Swofford served in a U.S. Marine Corps Surveillance and Target Acquisition/Scout-Sniper platoon during the Gulf War. After the war, he was educated at American River College; the University of California, Davis; and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has taught at the University of Iowa and Lewis and Clark College. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, Men's Journal, The Iowa Review, and other publications; his memoir Jarhead was a major New York Times bestseller, and the basis for the movie of the same name. A Michener-Copernicus Fellowship recipient, he lives in the Hudson Valley, in New York.

Biography

Open up any newspaper or switch on any television news program and you will no doubt be confronted with the withered face of the war in Iraq that simply will not abate. Unfortunately, war continues to be a dismal reality that every living being has to cope with on a daily basis, but it is, indeed, a rare thing for anyone to have actually experienced lugging a 100-pound backpack while fighting in chaotic front-line combat in the Middle East. With his shattering memoir Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles, Anthony Swofford gives the average civilian a pull-no-punches perspective of what it is really like to be a Marine during wartime.

Swofford's tale is not a happy one, but one that is necessary for gleaning a complete concept of not only what war means but what it does to those in the thick of it. Swofford is the product of a military lineage. His grandfather fought in World War II, his father in Vietnam. Anthony himself grew up on a military base, and while his peers were dreaming of what college they might attend, he determined to follow his familial path -- not that his parents encouraged a military career for their son. In fact, on one occasion, his father escorted a Marine recruiter from the Swofford household. However, Anthony, terrified of failure in a "normal" life, was focused on a destiny that was out of his father's hands. As he confesses in his book, "I needed the Marine Corps to save me from the other life I'd fail at -- the life of a college boy hoping to find a girlfriend and later a job."

The life Swofford sought out ultimately entailed nearly getting killed in an Iraqi booby trap, being shot by both Americans and Iraqis, physical abuse by a sadistic drill instructor, suicidal thoughts, and nagging murderous impulses. Trained to kill, and sent to the Middle East to do just that, Swofford found himself aching to perform his function, nearly shooting a comrade in the process. According to Swofford, such violent behavior simply went hand in hand with life on the frontlines. "It's an extremely violent place," he explained in an interview with Powells.com. "You're a young man who's trained to kill. It's in your head every day. You live in a very strict environment, and part of the reason you extend that violence beyond running around the jungle with your M16, say, you extend it out into the town because it's safe. You end up getting into a fight with some college kids or whatever."

Fortunately, Swofford made it out of the Marines alive, and has decided to use his horrifying experiences to enlighten the public about the reality of war without filtering it through the soft gauze of media spin. The Gulf War was portrayed as a brief skirmish that left few U.S. casualties, but Jarhead tells a different tale, addressing the psychological casualties of war. The resulting memoir has received much praise from Esquire, The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher's Weekly, to name a few. Jarhead has also been the subject of a major motion picture directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty; Road to Perdition) and starring Jake Gyllenhaal as "Swoff."

As for the real Swoff, he remains devoted to a personal crusade of educating others about military life, that very same life from which his father tried so hard to protect him. Swofford recently taught a class at Lewis and Clark College in the school's "Inventing America" program. Asking his students such thorny questions as "What is war worth and how much does it cost?" and "Is America worth fighting for?" has likely sparked the kind of debate one rarely encounters on the evening news.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Swofford:

"My first job after leaving the Marine Corps was as a bank teller, and a few months into it I was robbed at gunpoint. Then I quit. Down with guns."

"Some people in my family believe we are related to Francis Scott Key, and thus, F. Scott Fitzgerald, but this is not true."

"I prefer fish to steak."

"After a hard day of writing I love to cook. I am currently cooking regularly out of Batali, Boulud, and Pepin cookbooks. I still need recipes. I can walk to the market at four, shop, cook, and feed someone at nine o'clock. Then I've spent five hours away from the book, and this separation is good, and I've made something that is complete, perhaps, even, with lunch for the next day. And after eating I can revise the day's earlier work, while someone else washes the dishes."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Swoff
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 12, 1970
    2. Place of Birth:
      Fairfield, California
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, University of California, Davis, 1999; M.F.A. in English, University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, 2001

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    MAP!

    Res 1: parking lot and speed/free way. Res 2: map. Res 3: bios. Res 4: boy/girl bathrooms. Res 5: lunch room. Res 6: annoucements and court room. Res 10: training yard (tap to read). Res 11 to last Res: jail cells. Thats all, ~officer mckenna.

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