Following the success of Jarhead, Anthony Swofford assumed he had exorcised his military demons - but as every veteran knows, that isn't exactly how it works. In these searing, courageous pages, Swofford struggles to make sense of what his military service meant and to decide - after nearly ending it - what his life can and should become.
Consumed by drugs, booze, fast cars, and the wrong women, Swofford almost lost everything and everyone that mattered to him. Embarking on a series of RV trips with his dying father, a Vietnam vet, in an attempt to heal their difficult relationship, and meeting a like-minded woman (who will become his wife) in a chance encounter, Swofford begins to grapple with his volatile past and forge a path toward redemption.
Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails is a memoir that raises essential questions about masculinity, about fathers and sons, and about love.
I enjoyed the book immensely and, as a 32 year old veteran and having a father that passed away recently, I found many parallels. I like how Anthony exposes his own flaws and shows how events in his life changed him as a man. I recommend this book to anyone and especially veterans that face similar struggles in life daily.
What made the experience of listening to Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails the most enjoyable?
I was very impressed that Anthony Swofford held nothing back, including his own negativity. It would have been easy for him to write about what everyone else has done wrong while ignoring his own faults. Instead, he tells of his own misdeeds, along with those of others around him, with no attempt to gloss over or rationalize them. I rarely hear (or read) such honesty. There were many times throughout the book where I thought the author might be the most miserable bastard I've ever read a book from. He literally seemed completely miserable and completely detached from caring about others. Most people would try to hide these types of things, or maybe they'd be blind to them, but he was not blind nor did he try to hide anything.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails?
The author has a couple of epiphanies that change the course of his life. He didn't dwell on them very much but it's clear that these decisions were turning points.
Have you listened to any of Anthony Swofford’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I also listened to Jarhead. I would say this compares similarly, and for the same reasons.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No, I would never listen to an 8 hour book in one sitting. Besides, I listen while driving to/from work and I don't have an 8 hour commute.
Any additional comments?
If you liked Jarhead there's a good chance you'll like this book as well, but keep in mind it's not focused on Swofford's military experience at all. So if that's what you liked about his first book, you may not find what you're looking for here.
Also, another reviewer mentioned they didn't like Swofford's reading, I couldn't disagree more. Not to say he is a great reader and should go into reading audio books as a career, but he's reading his own memoir. Who better to convey whatever emotion he had about an event, than he himself? The emotion I got from most of the book was misery, and maybe that's exactly the emotion Swofford felt through most of these events. Or maybe that's just how he speaks. In either case, I'd still much rather hear his story from him than from a professional reader. If it was a novel then I might have felt differently, but this was not a novel.
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
If this friend was in a similar situation, I would recommend it.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
Becoming famous does not hold the key to happiness.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
I had to get used to the flat staccato of his voice, but then realized that not many other people could have been the voice of this book. The author himself HAD to narrate.
What disappointed you about Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails?
The author reads the book- a mistake. Writing and reading are different talents and being good at one doesn't indicate you'll be good at the other. He writes about events which range far and wide in emotion, and yet the entire read is monotone.
What could Anthony Swofford have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Write something worth reading. He writes on nothing new to the human condition. People are reading/listening to this book because the author is famous.
How could the performance have been better?
Different reader. Write something with insight. Give us a reason for dedicating 8 hours of our life to listening to him.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Disappointment. Nothing new in the human condition - no insight, no take away, just shitty (as he said numerous times) writing (all short sentences but not pithy or interesting) dull.
Any additional comments?
Writes about the human condition - everyone has a story like this and if that is what we wanted to read with no valuable conclusion- than we all are writers of this book, we just didn't spend the time telling the world or particular story in the gray sad monotone view he did.
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