On my trip to NYC last week, I read Danielle Trussoni's Falling Through the Earth. Since I knew my dorm room would not have TV or internet, I knew I'd need a good book for the nights, and this was perfect. I cannot remember how I heard of it. I must have read a review somewhere. But Da Man got it for me one Christmas from my Amazon wish list, and it's been on my shelf ever since.
It is a memoir that centers on Trussoni's relationship with her father, who fought in Vietnam. And he fought at the bottom of military strata. He was a "tunnel rat," crawling through tunnels lined with traps, weapons, and soldiers wanting to do nothing but kill him. When he came back to the United States, he tried to become a good father, I think. But the specter of Vietnam was always there. He drank a lot, taking his daughter to the local bars with him. Everyone knew her, and she knew everyone there.
As an adult, Danielle worked really hard to understand things from her father's persepctive, but he was beyond reticent (though he told a lot of stories, it seems, after he'd been drinking). She took her own trip to Vietnam, and she weaves the story of the trip with the story of growing up. I really liked how she wove the two together. I thought there was a good balance, which I don't always see with such tecniques.
My father was in Vietnam when I was born. He joined the army during Korea, so he'd gone high enough in rank not to be put on the front lines during Vietnam. But he was pretty damn close. He didn't suffer as Danielle's father did, but I know that it wasn't a walk in the park, either. He rarely talked about it, and I've never asked, so I get Danielle's desire to know more. I've often thought about traveling there myself. Da Man thinks I should go with my father, but that adds a lot of complicated layers. Still, I've thought about it.
And I am so glad I read Danielle Trussoni's account of it.