The Autumn Balloon

The Autumn Balloon

by Kenny Porpora

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Overview

The Autumn Balloon by Kenny Porpora


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Every autumn, Kenny Porpora would watch his heartbroken mother scribble messages on balloons and release them into the sky above Long Island, one for each family member they'd lost to addiction. As the number of balloons grew, his mother fell deeper into alcoholism, drinking away her sorrows every night in front of the television, where her love of Regis Philbin provided a respite from the sadness around her.

When their house was foreclosed upon, Kenny's mother absconded with him and his beloved dog and fled for the Arizona desert, joining her heroin-addicted brother on a quixotic search for a better life. What followed was an outlaw adolescence spent in constant upheaval surrounded by bizarre characters and drug-addicted souls.

In the wake of unspeakable loss, Kenny convinced a college to take a chance on him, and turned to the mentors, writers, and poets he found to rebuild the family he lost, and eventually graduated from the Ivy League with a new life.

Porpora's memoir is the story of a deeply dysfunctional but loving family, and follows his life from the chaos of his youth to his triumphs in the Ivy League. At times darkly comic, at times elegiac, The Autumn Balloon is a beautifully written testament to the irreplaceable bonds of family, even under the most trying circumstances, and one that marks the debut of an exciting new writer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455545162
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 02/03/2015
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 827,019
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Kenny Porpora has written for The New York Times, New York Daily News, and Newsday. He is a graduate of Columbia University's School of Journalism and Hofstra University. The Autumn Balloon is his first book.

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The Autumn Balloon 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellent memoir beautifully written. A memoir everyone,especially writers should read. I loved it.
Alexis-Elise More than 1 year ago
You are not your history. You are you. Kenneth Porpora’s "The Autumn Balloon" is a touchy, heart-wrenching account of his painful and exciting journey to manhood. Grief is frequent and obvious in the narrative, but that is what makes the joys and triumphs all the more satisfying. His mother is an alcoholic, his father struggling to support their family; together they are entangled in an abusive relationship that turns into an ongoing custody battle for their sons, Kenny and Stevie. Tragedy is a recurring result of living with alcoholics, drug addicts, and poverty, and we watch Kenny struggle to find his own place in their world. The memoir flows smoothly, and is consistent in its tug-a-war of highs and lows. We forget that this was a reality for a young boy traversing through life, walking on broken glass. Kenny tries to find his own identity while leaning on his older brother; he finds requited love in his loyal dog, Wozels, who in turn serves as childhood best friend. Porpora provides us with a story as rich as it is complex, in confronting conflicted feelings, undying love, disappointment, grief, and maturity. It is hard to read along as Kenny and Stevie tread through life, forever trying to be unlike their passed relatives, most being failures. Growing up is about risk and experience, and we watch as Kenny tries the same drink his mother downs until she goes unconscious, physically fights (’til bloodshed) with his brother, and more. It is altogether satisfying to reach the end of the narrative and find Kenny with a masters and a longing to live. You will hurt as he hurts, smile in his victories, and root for him in every chapter. This is one you won’t regret. You’ll watch Kenny learn to forgive, love, and live for today,ever-present values in our own lives. 4.5 Stars from me!
Hannah72 More than 1 year ago
            Kenny Porpora’s memoir, The Autumn Balloon, is a stunning distillation of one boy’s slow blossom in the midst of addiction, neglect, and dysfunction. While Porpora’s childhood could be describing as shocking and abusive, his clear, honest, and often childlike, tone allows the reader to see both the good and the bad in his situation. Through his incredible writing, he is able to transgress your judgments and pull you deep into his own experience. The quintessential underdog, watching Kenny achieve his dreams is utterly satisfying. This book will make you laugh, cry, and relive your own childhood.             Comparable to Dave Egger’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle, The Autumn Balloon earns its place among the crème de la crème of memoirs. From the first page, I could not put it down. Each chapter brings a new shocking development, but instead of stewing in the melodrama, Porpora slowly unearths the beauty in the small things. Although he overcame incredible odds, the author never paints himself as a maverick, always allowing the reader to understand the love and support his family gave him, even amidst their dysfunction. He never apologizes for his family, but he also never accuses them. A must read for people of all ages, this book is timeless.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My admiration and respect for the author grew exponentially by the close of the story. Heartfelt gratitude for sharing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing! Could not put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have ever read. Looking foward to more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The simplicity of the words in this memoir described the complexity of the story in a stark way. No flowery language needed to get across the point. Love grows in the most unlikely of places. Kenny Porpora is a great talent and I look forward to more of his words.
Katherine Odom-Tomchin More than 1 year ago
Porpora completely entrances readers in his memoir The Autumn Balloon, pulling them into his dysfunctional family and showing them the hard truth behind his upbringing. He reveals the most intimate details of his childhood in a personal, detailed way that avoids all sentimentality, excellently exposing his most difficult and touching memories, such as his mother’s struggles for money and the loss of his dog, Wozels. It feels like a privilege to be let inside Kenny’s memories and to read his memoir is to be a confidant to a man who has endured and succeeded through hardship few could look back on with as much grace as Kenny does in his writing.
AJenkins More than 1 year ago
Kenny Porpora’s The Autumn Balloon is a heart-wrenching coming of age memoir about loss, addiction, and growth. Porpora takes the reader through his tumultuous childhood in which he and his brother Steve bounce from home to home, witness alcohol-fueled domestic violence, and must constantly redefine their relationships. Dark, comic, and inspiring, this is a roller coaster of a book. Kenny’s character is the most fascinating part of this memoir, as it evolves and grows. At the beginning, Kenny is very passive and observant. He is therefore a relatively transparent narrator through which to view the events of the book. However, as he grows older, he finds ways to escape his broken world and he begins to imagine a better life. Eventually he graduates from Columbia University and begins a new chapter of his life. Even from a young age, Kenny shows how he is able to grow from his struggles. One scene that illustrates his dynamic character occurs when his beloved puppy, Wolzels, escapes from his apartment. The dog is a companion, comfort, and source of happiness in an otherwise dark childhood. So when she escapes, Kenny frantically runs through the streets, along and river, and through yards looking for her. Barefoot and crying, he happens upon a group of kids from his new school. He tries to explain away his appearance, explaining that people usually run barefoot where he is from. This frantic scene shows both his love for the gentle parts of his life and his desire to belong with people who are seemingly whole and normal. The tension between the narrator’s voice and the subject matter add to the style of the Porpora’s writing. The memoir deals with violence, sexual abuse, and drug addiction. Yet the narrator is quite soft and gentle for much of his childhood. There are exceptions, of course, when his violent environment seeps into his character. For example, he and his brother get into a violent fight in which Kenny hurls soup cans toward his brother’s head and breaks a window. Soon afterward, however, the boys reconcile and once again cling to each other for strength. These dynamics—dark and light, anger and love, loss and growth—power the memoir. The most haunting image in the book, and the inspiration for the title, is the image of autumn balloons. Kenny’s mother writes the name of each family member they’ve lost to addiction and releases the balloons into the sky. The juxtaposition of the balloons, representing happiness and youth, with the addiction, representing loss and pain, caused the image to stick with me. It is similar to the memoir as a whole: while this book includes sorrow and loss, it is also full of hope, as light and uplifting as a balloon headed for the sky.
ndallal More than 1 year ago
Debut novelist Kenny Porpora pieces together a beautifully chaotic memoir about the events of his young life with a broken family. As the years go by, and Kenny’s mother loses more and more of her family members to substance abuse, she too falls victim to alcoholism and fits of violent anger. What follows is a harrowing tale of Kenny’s childhood, as he is brought up in an often-brutal familial environment filled with custody battles and increasingly ferocious parental arguments. Porpora delves into the difficulties he and his brother face being passed around between a verbally abusive, alcoholic mother and a detached, irresponsible father. Yet, Porpora does not work to actively demonize his parents in the memoir. There is quite an interesting balance between showing the recklessness and vices of these adults, along with their utter humanity and love for their children. Porpora succeeds at shifting the blame away from his family, and toward the substance abuse and money problems that fragmented their lives. Since young Kenny is so exceptionally bright and curious, while still maintaining a youthful and incorrupt voice, the reader immediately roots for his success. His relationship with his dog, Wozels, is especially touching and does well to shed light on Kenny’s utter youth and innocence. Porpora also puts forth a laudable representation of his identity as a gay man. What remains with the reader is not Kenny’s sexual orientation so much as it is the fact that our protagonist does not go through the typical journey of self-discovery about his identity. Rather than spending time preparing the reader for this truth about himself, Porpora instead throws the fact of his orientation into the memoir a handful of times, so as to show that it is part of his identity, but certainly not the only part. The Autumn Balloon details the perseverance of a young boy in his attempt to make his way out of a traumatizing world. All the while, he must grasp onto his identity and fight off the demons that took hold of his elder family members. Porpora’s story is one of strength, fear, loneliness, and the search for peace in a world that has rarely shown him kindness. The disturbing images of Porpora’s youth, paired with his gorgeous use of language, all comes together to create an entirely unforgettable story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
swtdrmsnluv4u More than 1 year ago
Such a wonderfully, heartfelt, loving story of heartache, addiction, and hope. I work at a peer support agency for people who are in recovery for mental illness and addictions, I would love to have this book be a part of one of our groups. This story was so raw and honest. There are so many paths that a person can take and I am just thankful the author went on the journey he did, so he could share it with all of us. I would recommend this book to everyone, especially those of their recovery journey or peer supporters. I would like to thank NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for allowing me to read this amazing story.