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From the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning poet: an extraordinary memoir and blistering meditation on fatherhood, race, addiction, and ambition. Gregory Pardlo's father was a brilliant and charismatic man--a leading labor organizer who presided over a happy suburban family of four. But when he loses his job following the famous air traffic controllers' strike of 1981, he succ From the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning poet: an extraordinary memoir and blistering meditation on fatherhood, race, addiction, and ambition. Gregory Pardlo's father was a brilliant and charismatic man--a leading labor organizer who presided over a happy suburban family of four. But when he loses his job following the famous air traffic controllers' strike of 1981, he succumbs to addiction and exhausts the family's money on more and more ostentatious whims. In the face of this troubling model and disillusioned presence in the household, young Gregory rebels. Struggling to distinguish himself on his own terms, he hustles off to Marine Corps boot camp. He moves across the world, returning to the United States only to take a job as a manager-cum-barfly at his family's jazz club. Air Traffic follows Gregory as he builds a life that honors his history without allowing it to define his future. Slowly, he embraces the challenges of being a poet, a son, and a father as he enters recovery for alcoholism and tends to his family. In this memoir, written in lyrical and sparkling prose, Gregory tries to free himself from the overwhelming expectations of race and class, and from the tempting yet ruinous legacy of American masculinity. Air Traffic is a richly realized, deeply felt ode to one man's remarkable father, to fatherhood, and to the frustrating yet redemptive ties of family. It is also a scrupulous, searing examination of how manhood can be fashioned in our cultural landscape.


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From the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning poet: an extraordinary memoir and blistering meditation on fatherhood, race, addiction, and ambition. Gregory Pardlo's father was a brilliant and charismatic man--a leading labor organizer who presided over a happy suburban family of four. But when he loses his job following the famous air traffic controllers' strike of 1981, he succ From the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning poet: an extraordinary memoir and blistering meditation on fatherhood, race, addiction, and ambition. Gregory Pardlo's father was a brilliant and charismatic man--a leading labor organizer who presided over a happy suburban family of four. But when he loses his job following the famous air traffic controllers' strike of 1981, he succumbs to addiction and exhausts the family's money on more and more ostentatious whims. In the face of this troubling model and disillusioned presence in the household, young Gregory rebels. Struggling to distinguish himself on his own terms, he hustles off to Marine Corps boot camp. He moves across the world, returning to the United States only to take a job as a manager-cum-barfly at his family's jazz club. Air Traffic follows Gregory as he builds a life that honors his history without allowing it to define his future. Slowly, he embraces the challenges of being a poet, a son, and a father as he enters recovery for alcoholism and tends to his family. In this memoir, written in lyrical and sparkling prose, Gregory tries to free himself from the overwhelming expectations of race and class, and from the tempting yet ruinous legacy of American masculinity. Air Traffic is a richly realized, deeply felt ode to one man's remarkable father, to fatherhood, and to the frustrating yet redemptive ties of family. It is also a scrupulous, searing examination of how manhood can be fashioned in our cultural landscape.

30 review for Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Crupi

    Sometimes when a poet turns to prose the result is blindingly good. Sadly this was not one of those times. The writing was fairly overworked but my real issue was how the book turned from a memoir to an essay collection and thereby was neither.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Karyl

    I heard an interview with the author on NPR one day, and it caught my attention because I enjoy memoirs, and when he mentioned that his family had been featured on "Intervention," my curiosity was piqued even further. I'm a bit too young to remember Reagan firing all the air traffic controllers, so this was news to me. But I was enthralled by the elder Pardlo's description of the complexity of the job, of having to keep so many planes in the air at different speeds and altitudes and knowing how I heard an interview with the author on NPR one day, and it caught my attention because I enjoy memoirs, and when he mentioned that his family had been featured on "Intervention," my curiosity was piqued even further. I'm a bit too young to remember Reagan firing all the air traffic controllers, so this was news to me. But I was enthralled by the elder Pardlo's description of the complexity of the job, of having to keep so many planes in the air at different speeds and altitudes and knowing how differently each aircraft responds to various wind speeds. I'm glad Pardlo does mention that the civil service had been fairly well integrated until President Woodrow Wilson segregated it once more; this is a fact that needs to become common knowledge once more. Unfortunately, I had a hard time really getting into this book. I adore memoirs, especially by people who aren't A-list celebrities, but this one left me a bit cold. At times Pardlo's writing is quite overwrought, but I do realize that he's a poet. Pardlo can also be rather harsh on his father, himself, and his brother. It was a bit disconcerting at times. He's very honest and raw, but sometimes the reader wishes for a bit more diplomacy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    ColumbusReads

    A fascinating memoir by this Pulitzer Prize winning poet. It’s a courageously written book that chronicles among other things his complex relationship with members of his family, particularly his father and younger brother. His father, Greg Pardlo, Sr. was an air traffic controller and labor organizer who was fired by Ronald Reagan during the infamous air traffic controllers strike in 1981. It’s a mostly complicated and at times painful relationship with his father and the book is more successfu A fascinating memoir by this Pulitzer Prize winning poet. It’s a courageously written book that chronicles among other things his complex relationship with members of his family, particularly his father and younger brother. His father, Greg Pardlo, Sr. was an air traffic controller and labor organizer who was fired by Ronald Reagan during the infamous air traffic controllers strike in 1981. It’s a mostly complicated and at times painful relationship with his father and the book is more successful when we’re allowed entree into their world. The book is about family, manhood, substance abuse and navigating through life’s rough patches that grew increasingly hostile after the father lost his position and the family suffered financially and emotionally afterwards. According to the author, the book was originally intended to be a book of essays and not a memoir and the middle to latter part of the book unintentionally reads more like essays. This unfortunately makes up about a fourth of the book. Overall, a very revealing and heartbreaking book at times, by a wonderful writer who I was totally unfamiliar with. I must check out his books of poetry. 3.5 stars

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alycia

    It was good to be reminder how absolutely cruel Ronald Reagan was to the air traffic controllers and their families, especially after promising his support before the election and giving into the demands to the new people hired during and after the strike. Anything that reminds us that Ronald Reagan is the reason the USA is in the mess it's in right now, even without using those exact words, is necessary reading to me. I saw the author speak at my library and he was excellent. I chose this book It was good to be reminder how absolutely cruel Ronald Reagan was to the air traffic controllers and their families, especially after promising his support before the election and giving into the demands to the new people hired during and after the strike. Anything that reminds us that Ronald Reagan is the reason the USA is in the mess it's in right now, even without using those exact words, is necessary reading to me. I saw the author speak at my library and he was excellent. I chose this book for my small book club and it worked out okay. You can tell he is really a poet and I liked the chapters as individual stories, not wanting to read them all in a row.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kusaimamekirai

    This for me was the story of two books. The first half deals with the author’s father, an air traffic controller, pre and post Ronald Reagan’s unconscionable firing of 11,000 of them. His father is in many ways an outsized personality. A self made, self aggrandizing, and yet successful man who built a solidly middle class life for his family. Yet his father’s life, and that of the family’s, began to disintegrate in the wake of his firing. Alcoholism and drug abuse swept through the family as th This for me was the story of two books. The first half deals with the author’s father, an air traffic controller, pre and post Ronald Reagan’s unconscionable firing of 11,000 of them. His father is in many ways an outsized personality. A self made, self aggrandizing, and yet successful man who built a solidly middle class life for his family. Yet his father’s life, and that of the family’s, began to disintegrate in the wake of his firing. Alcoholism and drug abuse swept through the family as the facade of a life they had built began to crumble. It is in many ways I imagine a microcosm of the lives of most of those who were fired (and subsequently blackballed from any federal employment until Bill Clinton’s belated reinstatement of them 15 years later in 1996). With no training in any other field than this highly stressful and specialized one, there was no place for many of them to go. More importantly there was, as the author points out much like with soldiers returning from war, no outlet for them release the stress of years of constant tension and fear that one tiny mistake could cost hundreds of lives. This stress manifested itself instead in self destruction and hatred which destroyed both the father and the family. The story of the author’s father, the author watching him disintegrate, and the fascinating background on the air traffic controller’s strike was fascinating and extremely sobering reading, beautifully written and heartfelt. The second half however was none of that. There was the story of the author’s brother Robbie, who would become a successful musician only succumb to debilitating alcohol abuse, which continued the “sins of the father” narrative quite poignantly. The rest though was fairly uninteresting. Early in the book the author discusses what it was like being a middle class black family living around mostly white people. He discusses systemic issues that often prevent the rise of black families from poverty and other social issues. Yet somehow there is a whole chapter devoted to him and his wife searching for the best prep schools for his kids. Interspersed with his occasional laments and guilt about contributing to gentrification by living in an expensive brownstone (congratulations), and sending his kids to elite schools (congratulations again) is a kind of defiance that anyone should tell him he can’t do these things. This paragraph nicely illustrates his at times, schizophrenic writing: “Diversity is the prize many independent schools are after, and yet that prize continues to be as elusive as ever. Many schools want to sport your child’s nonthreatening nonwhite face on the banner of their home page so long as your child and your family share the school’s dreams of the future. That is, so long as the family is reasonably suited to the culture of the school. Let’s call it what is: tokenism, the appearance of progress without the growing pains. Programs like affirmative action and legacy admissions mostly piss off people who are not benefiting from them. Tokenism, however, makes everybody feel icky. But the alternative, laissez-faire approach feels irresponsible. All I’m sure about is that I don’t give a shit how my kid gets into a good school. That’s what I call a child-centered approach.” To summarize, schools exploit black kids by showing them as tokens of diversity without actually being diverse (such as having racial enrollment actually reflect societal demographics). But not having affirmative action is just heartless. Either way, I don’t give a fuck about either so long as my kids get into a good school and I’ll take advantage of whatever I need to to do that. That’s fine. Most parents feel that way I imagine. However seeing it in print like this makes me feel as the author so eloquently writes “icky”. It’s an “I’ll get mine” regardless of anyone else getting theirs. That’s modern society to be sure, but not something to be particularly proud of. To say nothing of what this has to do with his father or why the reader should care about his search of elite schools. In addition, some of the writing here is extremely overwrought. Pardlo is a poet so maybe that is to be expected to a certain degree but personally, I’ve always subscribed to the theory that while there is nothing wrong per se in flexing your vocabulary, it becomes a problem when it distracts the reader from the story being told. There is a good story here and sentences like: “Bed-Stuy’s indifferent availability acted like an economic baleen capturing even the krill of our demographic heft and hue.” I know what he wants to say but sentences like these pulled me out of the narrative and served no other purpose in my humble opinion than to show off. It’s a shame the book drifted off like it did in it’s latter stages. The first half is as compelling as anything you’ll read this year, the second half is simply forgettable.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Don

    Terrible memoir! I hate to call it that because the book lacks identity. The title is misleading because his father and the air traffic control strike plays only a small part. Well his father does play a larger role but mainly to show how grandiose he was, a braggart who talks a big game but doesn’t deliver. His son is not far from this description if you base it on this book. The book is part family history, black history, cultural theory, addiction, recovery, personal journal and a smidge of p Terrible memoir! I hate to call it that because the book lacks identity. The title is misleading because his father and the air traffic control strike plays only a small part. Well his father does play a larger role but mainly to show how grandiose he was, a braggart who talks a big game but doesn’t deliver. His son is not far from this description if you base it on this book. The book is part family history, black history, cultural theory, addiction, recovery, personal journal and a smidge of poetic theory. It’s all over the place, going from a father on his mother side to his father to his brother to black panthers to the 60s to fucking white women to bartending to chasing girls to Scandinavia and all of this would be great there’s no clear transition or cohesion. It’s basically diarrhea of the mouth from someone who paid six figures for a literary degree. I’ve never read his poetry and i don’t pretend to understand it but either his poetry is a complete 180 in terms of quality of writing or it is the case that most modern poetry is drivel and bombast.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura Hoffman Brauman

    This is a hard read for me to rate. Pardlo is a talented writer and he examines so many issues in this memoir -- race, economics, manhood, addiction, family and sibling relationships, marriage and parenthood. At times, his writing feels very academic and I did learn a lot in those sections. In other areas, he gets into much more personal territory but I felt like he was keeping the reader at a distance. I think this might have worked better if he had either focused more on the personal aspects o This is a hard read for me to rate. Pardlo is a talented writer and he examines so many issues in this memoir -- race, economics, manhood, addiction, family and sibling relationships, marriage and parenthood. At times, his writing feels very academic and I did learn a lot in those sections. In other areas, he gets into much more personal territory but I felt like he was keeping the reader at a distance. I think this might have worked better if he had either focused more on the personal aspects of the story or done this more as a cultural/social narrative and looked at a more global view, but moving back and forth made it difficult to connect with what I think was actually a pretty compelling personal tale. All that being said, I still am glad I read this.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christa Jimenez

    I struggled to get through this book. The prose itself seemed a bit disjointed and erratic- almost as if several of the chapters had been written for an academic purpose and then just added to the book. It’s probably one of the more impersonal memoirs I have read. That said- I learned a good bit of new information about black American history, and i highlighted several passages that were incredibly insightful and well-written. I’d recommend it- but with some reservation.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Tennis

    Thoroughly enjoyed Pardlo’s story of his relationship with his father. Highly recommend this book. “My need for his approval would form the crucible out of which I still struggle to climb.” – p. 40 “Poetry, my dad said, is like a game at a children’s birthday party. What’s the point if everybody wins? Writing is its own reward I’ve explained to him many times, but I couldn’t help wishing I was raising a Super Bowl trophy over my head in that photo.” – p. 221

  10. 5 out of 5

    Whit

    This was an interesting read. Beautifully written yet remarkably puzzling. Gregory Pardlo recounts his life starting from childhood all the way into his adult life. It is broken out into two parts. The first being the actual coming of age tale around his father losing his union backed job and his time growing up in a middle class area. Being a bit jumbled, it took a few rereads for me to catch what he was trying to say. He has a unique way of writing that forces you to actually THINK about what This was an interesting read. Beautifully written yet remarkably puzzling. Gregory Pardlo recounts his life starting from childhood all the way into his adult life. It is broken out into two parts. The first being the actual coming of age tale around his father losing his union backed job and his time growing up in a middle class area. Being a bit jumbled, it took a few rereads for me to catch what he was trying to say. He has a unique way of writing that forces you to actually THINK about what he’s presenting to you. Once the 2nd part begins I can understand his sentence structure and appreciate his style of writing. The book takes off during this half, in my opinion. I’m able to understand his family dynamic and relate to the powerful story he is telling. It forced me to think of how I would actually write my OWN memoir. What exactly would I say? I can appreciate how honest he is the more I made my way through the book. I gave it 4 stars because of the 2nd half and how well it flowed. (Also because his brother was in the group City High. I loved their songs back in the day)!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    For me, this was really more of a 3.5 or 3.75 stars. I love the author's choice of words throughout. He can WRITE. As others have said, the book is really more a collection of essays than a typical memoir. To be honest, I probably never would have chosen to read this if I didn't know the author although we were never close and haven't really stayed in touch over the years. We lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same elementary, middle and high schools at the same time and I graduated a ye For me, this was really more of a 3.5 or 3.75 stars. I love the author's choice of words throughout. He can WRITE. As others have said, the book is really more a collection of essays than a typical memoir. To be honest, I probably never would have chosen to read this if I didn't know the author although we were never close and haven't really stayed in touch over the years. We lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same elementary, middle and high schools at the same time and I graduated a year ahead of him. I never really thought about living on the "rich" side of the park because our house was on the other side of Twin Hills Drive. I did relate to the difference in educational quality between Willingboro and neighboring towns and schools. I spent most of my first year of college struggling because I didn't have the same basic knowledge as my classmates. The same thing happened when I went to graduate school. With all of that said, "Air Traffic' is not a light or easy read. I found it worth the time to dig in and engage with the stories told.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Moxie

    I had to read this for school, and I read it all in one sitting (on a PLANE, no less), so I'm a little biased. But I didn't like the book very much, and neither did any of my classmates. It's interesting, brutally honest, and has a very similar tone to some of Pardlo's poems, so if you're a fan of his other work, I'd recommend this book. Similarly, if you want to read something about the Reagan shutdown of air traffic controllers, or are at all interested in the ramifications of that upon people, I had to read this for school, and I read it all in one sitting (on a PLANE, no less), so I'm a little biased. But I didn't like the book very much, and neither did any of my classmates. It's interesting, brutally honest, and has a very similar tone to some of Pardlo's poems, so if you're a fan of his other work, I'd recommend this book. Similarly, if you want to read something about the Reagan shutdown of air traffic controllers, or are at all interested in the ramifications of that upon people, this is a fairly good read. Beyond that, the prose is overblown, pretentious, and hard to get through. The narration NEVER lets the author take responsibility for his actions; rather, he blames his alcoholism and neglect of his family entirely on his father. It's an unpleasant read that somewhat alienates the reader.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    Pardlo who won a Pulitzer prize for poetry tells the story of his father, an Air Traffic controller who was fired by Ronald Reagan after a massive strike. Pardlo had a difficult relationship with father, who was an addict, and did not like to be overshadowed by other figures. Pardlo briefly discusses his own addiction and his relationship with Robbie Pardlo, a musician whose career has declined due to alcoholism. While the writing was beautiful, the book felt disjointed. The first half was focus Pardlo who won a Pulitzer prize for poetry tells the story of his father, an Air Traffic controller who was fired by Ronald Reagan after a massive strike. Pardlo had a difficult relationship with father, who was an addict, and did not like to be overshadowed by other figures. Pardlo briefly discusses his own addiction and his relationship with Robbie Pardlo, a musician whose career has declined due to alcoholism. While the writing was beautiful, the book felt disjointed. The first half was focused on Pardlo's father and his family history. Eventually, Pardlo skips from his family history, to his thoughts on race relations, to his thoughts on "colored people time", to his children, and finally to alcoholism in his family. The last section on alcoholism in his family felt rushed.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dave Allen

    A memoir from South Jersey's second-most celebrated poet (shout-out to WW). It centers on Pardlo's father, but he comes through fleetingly - though his appearance is depicted vividly at stages, particularly his hairstyles. There's so much rich material here, but I felt it's all addressed glancingly, the details compressed. There are brief forays into into the race dynamics in his hometown and in Philadelphia, the air traffic controller strike of 1981, Pardlo's brother's brush with fame and strug A memoir from South Jersey's second-most celebrated poet (shout-out to WW). It centers on Pardlo's father, but he comes through fleetingly - though his appearance is depicted vividly at stages, particularly his hairstyles. There's so much rich material here, but I felt it's all addressed glancingly, the details compressed. There are brief forays into into the race dynamics in his hometown and in Philadelphia, the air traffic controller strike of 1981, Pardlo's brother's brush with fame and struggles with alcoholism, Pardlo's own use and dependency. Many lovely and lyrical (but unshowy) passages - I'd read an entire separate book centered on him and his mother, or his brother Robbie, or on his recovery and parenting. This one felt broad in scope but too detached, too limited.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I really enjoyed this book. It’s written very well. The first half of the book is particularly strong as the author remembers his childhood and his father’s loss of his job in the PATCO strike. I found the last half of the book not quite as strong, but pretty interesting nonetheless. The author, a well known poet, tells the story of his life well. The last part focuses on the experience of his family in dealing with his brother’s (and his own) addictions. It felt like that section could have bee I really enjoyed this book. It’s written very well. The first half of the book is particularly strong as the author remembers his childhood and his father’s loss of his job in the PATCO strike. I found the last half of the book not quite as strong, but pretty interesting nonetheless. The author, a well known poet, tells the story of his life well. The last part focuses on the experience of his family in dealing with his brother’s (and his own) addictions. It felt like that section could have been a little tighter…but I found it all a moving meditation on race, class, and family life in modern America. I bought the book new from Amazon this year.

  16. 4 out of 5

    BettyBolero

    I read this book because I remember Reagan firing the controllers in 1981 and have friends that were those fired controllers. But the author is the son of a controller and it’s his memoir so I kept wondering why a poet professor would call his memoir “Air Traffic”. He finally gives it up near the end when he explains that the 1981 PATCO strike and subsequent firing was a pivotal moment in his father’s life and the demise of his family. Although I didn’t find it to be an apt title for Pardlo’s me I read this book because I remember Reagan firing the controllers in 1981 and have friends that were those fired controllers. But the author is the son of a controller and it’s his memoir so I kept wondering why a poet professor would call his memoir “Air Traffic”. He finally gives it up near the end when he explains that the 1981 PATCO strike and subsequent firing was a pivotal moment in his father’s life and the demise of his family. Although I didn’t find it to be an apt title for Pardlo’s memoir I still enjoyed the book and how his life was affected and unfolded post air traffic controller strike.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Really 3.5 stars. Greg Pardlo writes prose like a poet: lyrically, introspectively, occasionally overwrought. He's telling a lot of stories here and sometimes there's a struggle to connect sections. It's as much a personal essay collection as a memoir. But the man can write. He can turn a phrase with the best of them. This is a book worth the effort you'll have to put into it. Full disclosure: I grew up in the same town and went to school with the author, and had a mutual friend or two at the ti Really 3.5 stars. Greg Pardlo writes prose like a poet: lyrically, introspectively, occasionally overwrought. He's telling a lot of stories here and sometimes there's a struggle to connect sections. It's as much a personal essay collection as a memoir. But the man can write. He can turn a phrase with the best of them. This is a book worth the effort you'll have to put into it. Full disclosure: I grew up in the same town and went to school with the author, and had a mutual friend or two at the time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    One of the most original, and audacious, pieces of oersonal memoir I have read in quite some time. Pardlo takes a fascinating and utterly revealing dive into himself and the history of the complicated relationships he has with his family, his history, and himself. His analysis of his relationship with his father is laid bare in levels of aching nuance. One would be hard-pressed to not read this book looking inward and outward at the same time.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sue Dix

    Had this book not been picked for me, I would not have read it. I enjoy a good memoir, and this one was OK, but was constructed more as a series of essays, and it became somewhat disconnected. I enjoyed the author’s writing, although he does tend to love to show off his vast vocabulary. All of that aside, it is the author’s insights into black America and what it is to be a black man in America, that make this a book worth reading.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    Memoir of a man growing up in the shadow of his father. What I loved: I found the book written beautifully, but ultimately didn't care at all. The chapters and narrative were disjointed and scattered and I just didn't connect or feel invested or even figure out why I was reading it or what I should be taking away. What I learned: ??? A favorite passage: "Debt was about as real as race, meaning not real at all, but capable of fucking up my life in lasting ways."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Seiji Takahashi

    Through a poet's voice, Pardlo was able to offer a glimpse into the complexities that comes in a family dynamic. Though I found this book to be a bit dense at times, I really did enjoy the prose incorporated into this collection. Some of the memories/histories read a bit like essays, while some lean more into CNF. Regardless, this was an enjoyable, and insightful book that makes meaning of truths.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    The author basically tries to make 3 points. 1) my dad worked for Air Traffic Control. 2. I read a dictionary when I was young. 3. Ohz yeah, I'm black, and I think about that a lot. ...the book starts out interesting enough, but then goes on some whack-a-doo tangent that nobody can follow. The author seems to make it a point to use big words and sound philosophical, when the only thing he should be worried about is maintaining his readers' interest.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bernard O

    A Life Troubled with Life Fascinating account of an individual full of perceptions and understandings but incapable of sustained and meaningful change. A puzzling book, although well written and insightful, but the learning never seems to lead to the wisdom of meaning. Perhaps I am not able to appreciate the difficulty he experiences.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Greg Pardlo's father and mother work hard and have ambitions for their two boys. Unfortunately, Pardlo senior works for PATCO, and when Reagan fires the entire union, he doesn't catch on again with an equivalent job and benefits. A memoir about class, about African-American striving and obstacles, and about the damage alcoholism does across generations. Absorbing at times, but uneven.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maya Sophia

    A well written an interesting memoir. Come for the dysfunction of a family headed by an awful father who is intent on killing himself by 65 and a brother who appears on the show Intervention, and stay for the thoughtful analysis of labor unions, Black identity, childrearing and development, addiction, and media.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Susanne Dunn

    A memoir that was at times interesting but didn't really grip me. Ever since seeing Pushing Tin, I've been intrigued by air traffic controllers, but that is only his father's part of the story. When it gets into his life, I lost a little bit of interest, and honestly, didn't finish. If I didn't have so many other books to get through right now, I might have persevered.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Arthington

    This is an exquisitely well-written memoir by a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, that especially hit home in the final chapter with the starkly honest back-story of Robbie's "Intervention" episode and Gregory's own admission of alcoholism (the airing can be found in chapters on Youtube).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shaina Lore

    I got this book when attending the book launch and reading by the author, Gregory Pardlo, last month. I found this to be one of the most interesting memoirs I’ve ever read. Very well-written and captivating to read. A great view of life in general from all different facets. 5 stars.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sujata

    It’s hard to say you didn’t enjoy a memoir but I didn’t understand why this person got a book del for a memoir. How we I could have listened to an entire book about the air traffic controller strike which was the first portion and to me the most interested no part of this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Funny, sad memoir of the life and times of a poet's dysfunctional family. Gregory Pardlo, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book of poetry, Digest, has interesting and insightful reflections throughout, related to family, to society, and to literature.

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