Latest News: Faculty Engagement Corps Journal Day 1: On the road
Swofford reads from new memoir
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Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumnus and former faculty member Anthony Swofford, the acclaimed author of the war memoir Jarhead, will return to Iowa City to read from his new book, Hotels, Hospitals and Jails, at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at Prairie Lights Books. Listen to a live stream at the University of Iowa website for the Virtual Writing University.
Swofford’s bestseller Jarhead, which was later adapted for film, recounted his service as a marine sniper during the Persian Gulf War. Following the success of Jarhead, Swofford assumed he had exorcised his military demons, but his new memoir recounts his struggles to make sense of his military service, and to decide what his life can and should become.He describes his search for identity, meaning, and a reconciliation with his dying father in the years after his return.
Adjusting to life after war, Swofford watched his older brother succumb to cancer and his first marriage crumble, leading him to pursue an excessive 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, Swofford realized, was to confront his dad—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.
An Associated Press review concluded, “Swofford's prose remains as strong as ever. And his insights into his own past and present strike an honest chord." And an NPR story observed, “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."
Swofford is also the author of the novel Exit A, and his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s,Men’s Journal, the Iowa Review, and other publications.
For accommodations at the live event, contact email@example.com.