As You Were by David Tromblay

Tromblay takes a no-holds-barred, full-frontal approach to his writing that is immersive and, at times, shocking.

4/5 stars.
ARC ebook, 251 pages.
Read from October 14, 2020 to October 19, 2020.

A big thank you to Dzanc Books who offered me an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When the author learns that his father is dying he decides to write a memoir of sorts, a testament to the brutality that was inflicted on him as a child and as a young man. Tromblay is part Native American, on his father’s side, and after being abandoned by his mother, his grandmother raises him the only way she knew how. Tromblay’s grandmother lived through the reservation boarding schools that Native Americans were forced into, meaning that anything she knew about punishment came in the form of fear and physical abuse. To make matters worse, Tromblay’s father lived with them as well and not only is he an alcoholic but he suffers brain damage from a previous car accident making him extremely volatile and aggressive. Tromblay’s father always said to him, that the day that he could “take him” was the day he had no place under his roof. Tromblay eventually escapes his tormenters and finds himself in the Armed Forces as a young man. While his capacities for violence were put to good use, his experiences inevitably led to further trauma. 

Tromblay takes a no-holds-barred, full-frontal approach to his writing that is immersive and, at times, shocking. The book moves back and forth in time to parts of Tromblay’s childhood to pieces of his adult life and his time in the Armed Forces, often half a world away. Tromblay’s story is a unique coming of age story that discloses so much pain and humiliation and yet it is still an engaging read as the book’s tone is not one of pity. You get the idea that the author has accepted that this is just the way things are, just like a straight-faced soldier who has compartmentalizes his pain.  The story is written in the second person, as the author addresses himself giving the story a poetic and poignant feel, despite its raw content. As a reader you’re drawn to Tromblay’s torment through its honest and direct structure as well as the poetic style that comforts you, as you somehow already surmise the strength behind the author’s words, anticipating a positive outcome. 

“He does die, but it takes you another half-dozen drafts to say what you need to say. With his last breath, the last bit of angst drips out of your pen.”

p.250

Tromblay’s story is less about pain and more about overcoming it by confronting it head-on. It’s about a grieving process unique to those who have experienced traumas by people who were supposed to care for them as well as those affected by war and death. While there are many graphic details in the story that some might find triggering or disturbing, it was all part of a necessary process for Tromblay. His father’s death is an opportunity to release, maybe not forgive, but to let go and move on. 

With his father’s death, Tromblay finds some healing from his past and a future in writing to look forward to. After a decade in the Army, Tromblay went on to pursue his MA in Creative Writing having since published two books, of which this is his second. This book covers so many dynamic themes that it is an approachable story for those that are willing to follow in the author’s disturbing past and hopeful future. I would highly recommend it.

This novel is expected to be available for purchase in February 2021. 

Us by Curtis Wiklund

With a focus on the little things, this cute book will bring the romantic out in anyone.

3/5 stars.
ebook, 114 pages.
Read on November 11, 2017.

One of the best things about Goodreads and Netgalley is coming across books that you would not have found otherwise, like this book. After spotting it on Goodreads I was happy to see that it was available on Netgalley and gladly devoured it.

The creation of this book is thanks to the internet as the author posted some of his sketches online and found that they went viral. The book is brief, with a little over 100 pages and while some images follow a consistent style, others contain different mediums and complexities. The author began the project after being inspired by his wife’s own art project and committed to drawing or doodling one image a day with the main topic being about his everyday life with his wife. ae5f3c3d8556e89b4a7a6735b3f077a8From the trivial every day to the intimate moments that only couples can share, the author allows the reader a glimpse into his marriage. With a focus on the little things, this cute book will bring the romantic out in anyone.

This book is best read in one sitting and would make a great gift for a wedding shower or anniversary.  The book and story are uncomplicated, as it just follows everyday life with no hailing climax or conflict, but it is meant to induce smiles rather than reflection.

This beauty will be available just in time for the holidays, December 5, 2017, and would make a great stocking stuffer and keepsake for that special person in your life. Pre-order your copy today!