Cover image for My heart is a drunken compass : a memoir
My heart is a drunken compass : a memoir
Martinez, Domingo, author.
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Publication Information:
Guilford, Connecticut : Lyons Press, [2014]
Physical Description:
xix, 296 pages ; 24 cm
"An illuminating new memoir of loss, grief, resilience, and recovery. My Heart Is a Drunken Compass inspires readers by showing that it is through adversity, redemption, and recovery that we truly come to understand who we are and how resilient we can be. Tragedies may seem difficult, but in the wake of the struggle, bonds are tightened, families are reunited, and true love is found"--
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PN4874 .M4827 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PN4874 .M4827 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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With his trademark tragic-comical voice and arresting storytelling, Domingo Martinez once again delivers a deeply personal memoir full of wry asides and poignant, thoughtful reflections in his new book My Heart Is a Drunken Compass. His first book shockingly ended with his fiancé Stephanie plummeting off the side of an overpass in Seattle, after having a seizure while driving. He now chronicles this painful episode in his life, with flashbacks to their tenuous romantic relationship, and how her accident and subsequent coma ultimately causes him to unravel emotionally. This pivotal moment, which began with an alarming call in the middle of the night, parallels another gut-wrenching experience from the past when his youngest brother's life hangs in the balance.             Martinez once again brilliantly examines the complicated connections between family, friends, and loved ones. Feeling estranged from his family in Texas over the years, isolated and alone in Seattle, he turns to writing as a therapeutic tool. The underlying themes of addiction and recovery and their powerful impact on family dynamics also emerge within the narrative, as he struggles with his inner demons. These two traumatic life events actually bring Martinez closer to the family that he has in many ways spend years trying to deny, strengthening their bonds and healing old wounds. When Martinez falls apart completely, he finds his family, his redemption, and a new beginning with the love of his life, who encourages him to write his way out of the pain in order to save his own life.

Author Notes

Domingo Martinez is the New York Times bestselling author of The Boy Kings of Texas and was a Finalist for the National Book Award. The Boy Kings of Texas has been optioned by HBO for an original series through Salma Hayek's production company, Ventanarosa. Martinez's work has appeared in Texas Monthly, The New Republic, Saveur Magazine, and more. He has also appeared on NPR's All Things Considered and This American Life as well as The Diane RehmShow.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The author of The Boy Kings of Texas (2012) returns with another deeply personal and moving memoir. It begins with two late-night phone calls, several years apart. In one, in March 2007, he learns that his brother has sustained a head injury after a fall; the other, in December 2009, tells him that his ex-fiancée has driven her car over the side of an overpass. In writing about this traumatic period in his life, Martinez talks candidly and painfully about his own mental collapse, his alcoholism and drug use, and his slow path to recovery. It's not what you might call an entertaining memoir if anything it's almost operatically tragic but Martinez writes so frankly, so eloquently, that we are compelled to keep reading, if for no other reason than to see if this poor guy finds a way to come out the other side of all he's gone through. He does, but it is a hard-won breakthrough.--Pitt, David Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The follow-up to his first book, the Nation Book Award Finalist The Boy Kings of Texas, this work finds Martinez again mining his personal and family life for narrative gold. This time, instead of focusing on his border childhood he turns his attention to his adult life in Seattle, most notably his younger brother Derek's near fatal drunken fall and his ex-fiancé's harrowing car accident that act as catalysts for an exploration of his own personal traumas-including his alcoholic tendencies and near-suicidal depression. Though Martinez's mischievous nature can still illicit a smile, the self-deprecating humor of the first book has mostly been replaced with self-loathing as the author continually realizes he is unable to help his loved ones because he more often than not refuses to help himself. However, the fact that he knows his issues and is able talk about them in such intricate prose ("My heart was a drunken compass even then, before I was a drunk.") allows this work to remain compelling despite the author's inability to change. As Martinez rides a rollercoaster of relapse and redemption, those who survive Martinez's self-inflicted wounds and hang on till the end are rewarded with a conclusion that's unlikely as it is uplifting. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. xi
Part I Songs of His People
Chapter 1 The Oops! Babyp. 3
Chapter 2 Mom Leaves Derekp. 9
Chapter 3 Drinking with Dadp. 19
Chapter 4 Cain without Abelp. 25
Chapter 5 Epiphaniesp. 35
Chapter 6 Pygmalion, Texasp. 41
Chapter 7 Bread Thou Artp. 55
Chapter 8 Bread Thou Shalt Remainp. 57
Chapter 9 Caramelizationp. 61
Chapter 10 Toastp. 67
Part II The Unwedded
Chapter 11 It Was just One of Those Thingsp. 71
Chapter 12 Stephanie of a Thousand Livesp. 83
Chapter 13 Cannibal Hymnsp. 95
Chapter 14 The War of the Ratsp. 99
Chapter 15 Cleopatrap. 103
Chapter 16 Beating Up Lesbiansp. 107
Chapter 17 The Wrong Side of the Forkp. 125
Chapter 18 Showering Blowsp. 131
Chapter 19 Every Exit an Entrance, Someplace Elsep. 137
Chapter 20 What the Morning Bringsp. 151
Chapter 21 Neon Crossesp. 155
Part III Looking Down
Chapter 22 Sarah's Placep. 171
Chapter 23 Buying Goblin Fruitp. 177
Chapter 24 The Hurricanep. 185
Chapter 25 The Third Placep. 195
Chapter 26 Now the Wolfp. 205
Chapter 27 People Ain't No Goodp. 219
Chapter 28 Stallingp. 223
Chapter 29 Easy Moneyp. 229
Chapter 30 Queen of the Savagesp. 237
Chapter 31 Northern Exposurep. 241
Chapter 32 Roslynp. 245
Chapter 33 Good-bye, Jack Countyp. 247
Chapter 34 The Low Gearp. 257
Chapter 35 Dining with Cannibalsp. 263
Chapter 36 The Way to Say Good-byep. 279
Epiloguep. 287
Codap. 291
Acknowledgmentsp. 295
About the Authorp. 297