An award-winning poet highlights the vibrant history of his generation in a farewell to Vietnam, the chaotic sixties, and their long aftermath.“We tend to write about what will not go away,” Doug Anderson says in this candid, darkly humorous journey of self-discovery. Beginning in 1943, in the pre–civil rights South filled with tobacco and war stories, he recalls the difficult childhood that propels him into service in Vietnam. In 1967, having returned home deeply shaken by his experience as a combat medical corpsman, Anderson plunges into the heady freedoms and excesses of the sixties. His downward spiral—through booze, substance abuse, and sex—brings him dangerously close to a total breakdown. Finally, in a return group visit to Vietnam in 2000, he meets with former enemies now become writers and poets. Moved by the realization that “the last time I saw these people they were trying to kill me,” Anderson confronts the past and calls upon a story—this powerful story—to rebuild a life.
|Publisher:||Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||485 KB|
About the Author
Doug Anderson, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, teaches at the University of Connecticut Greater Hartford Campus and lives in Hartford.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Keep Your Head Down: A Memoir based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
I can't put this memoir down. It will speak to anyone who's interested in the trajectory from self-bewilderment to actualization. It will especially speak to vets, baby-boomers, alcoholics, anyone in the arts. The section on Vietnam competes with the best literature about it: puts you there, makes you understand the fear and disorientation. Anderson captures the sixties and seventies through his own odyssey. A terrific mix of the interior and exterior, his journey is hard won. It makes me want to keep on keeping on. A poet and actor, Anderson applies those talents as a writer. His ear for the right word, and his concision and sense of dramatic timing are superb.
In this memoir, one finds a prose narrative that continues on with the themes found in his two extraordinary volumes of poetry, The Moon Reflected Fire and Blues for Unemployed Secret Police. Whether depicting the insanity of the Viet Nam war or the complexities of early adolescence, whether revisiting a hippie bash in Tucson or a pack of unslept marine corp officers in Que Son valley, whether immersed in the roiling connection between sex and love or lack thereof, Anderson's eye for the truth is equally tender and unsparing. This prose is unmarked with sentimentality yet charged with a heart whose course we are privileged to follow as it winds from childhood into early manhood as an artist and a veteran of war.