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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lunatic Heroes by C Anthony Martignetti

It was a strange road that led me to this book. An author I very much admire married a musician I'd never heard of. Upon listening to her music I found out that (1) I had wasted years of my life not listening to her (her music is a part of my daily life now) and that (2) she was an excellent source of suggestions for really good art of all kinds. So when admired author and beloved musician both said "you should check this book out" I decided it was probably a good idea.

I don't like memoirs. I've been known to read the odd memoir from a Hollywood writer/actor I enjoy, but really only the funny ones. (So I've read memoirs by Alan Alda, Bob Newhart, Charles Grodin and the sort-of memoir from Tina Fey and that's about it) If there's soul searching, pain, truth or anything approaching real feelings (I'm looking at you Alda, how dare you make me cry about your dog???) I move on. And since most memoirs have a heaping dose of adversity and life-pain, I skip the whole genre.

My opinion on memoirs hasn't changed, but Lunatic Heroes was worth the bending of my personal reading policy.  Instead of the more traditional format of vignettes that work together to form a cohesive timeline, Martignetti is simply telling you some stories. They feature some of the same characters and a few recurring themes, but this is really a collection of stories that also just happen to be true, and happen to be about Martignetti's childhood and family.

I loved this book. I loved that it's very intimately written, as if the author was sitting across from you in a bar, fiddling with his beer and saying "...that reminds me of this time...". I love that Martignetti is able to share these stories full of love and fear and pain (often all three at once) without a shred of judgement. Not that the child whose eyes took all these people and stories in didn't have an opinion on the world around him, but that he, the adult, isn't trying to force the reader to draw a final conclusion on any of it. Martignetti's stories, his childhood, and life in general is messy. Sloppy and complicated and smelly and sometimes very, very unpleasant  But every single story in the book is suffused with love: love of family, love of books, love of life. Fair warning, it's at minimum, a 3-hanky book. The pain, and the fear sensitive children go through is so present, so close to the surface in this book, it's hard not to look away. But it's gorgeous, messy life, and in that aspect, this book is perfect.

If you like memoirs, you'll absolutely have to check this one out, and if you don't like memoirs, I think you'll be doing yourself a favor to check it out anyway.

You can also head over to Anthony's Facebook page to leave him comments when you're done reading: https://www.facebook.com/camstories?fref=ts

As always, thanks for reading and have a happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Great review, Chris - I found the book, and Anthony, along a very similar path, and have loved reading it so far. I'm a bit more than half done, and after attending the reading (last week?), I'm now hearing his voice as I go along...

    1. I'm jealous that you were able to attend the signing. Becoming an Amanda Palmer fan has introduced me to so much great art and so many wonderful Boston people, but I live in Pittsburgh and can't get to Boston easily. I've already invited Anthony to my bookstore to sign when he's feeling up to it. I'm very happy you are enjoying the book. Cheers!