Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Kiko's House 2006 Book of the Year

I've read a slew of good books this year and Kiko's House Book Club reviewers have recommended a bunch more. But if I could pick only one book and recommend it as a holiday gift it would be "Falling Through the Earth: A Memoir" by Danielle Trussoni.

"Falling" is about the author's journey to try to understand her father, Daniel, by turns a nasty and loving man who was a "tunnel rat" in Vietnam, a nightmarishly dangerous job that involved hunting for Viet Cong guerrillas in their subterranean labyrinths.
Trussoni was 11 years old when she read a page in her mother's diary with a bar graph that quantified how much her mother believed her family loved her. Her brother scored just below a perfect 10 and her younger sister 9 out 10 , while she and her father each got a measly 4, confirming what Danielle already knew -- she was a daddy's girl and in her mother's eyes, neither of them measured up.
When Daniel moved out after a bitter break-up, Danielle followed him. Most of this thin book concerns her life with her father -- much of it in various smoky bars communing with his barfly friends and lovers -- and her efforts to learn who he was before the war so inextricably changed him. Trussoni herself travels to Vietnam, and it should come as no surprise that "Falling" also is a story of self discovery.
Trussoni writes with a direct, spare and unaffected style that makes "Falling" even more engaging. And "Falling" is a book for our times, as well, with soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan who like her father will be changed forever.
(FYI, the day after I posted this review, the New York Times declared "Fallling" one of the 10 best books of 2006. Click here for their review.)

No comments: