Son of a Gun: A Memoir

Justin St Germain, Author
Justin St. Germain. Random, $26 (254p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6862-3
Reviewed on: 06/03/2013
Release date: 08/13/2013
Open Ebook - 145 pages - 978-0-345-53874-1
Hardcover - 242 pages - 978-1-78239-064-0
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-78239-066-4
Paperback - 254 pages - 978-0-8129-8074-5
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A young man wrestles with his heartache over his mother’s murder in this lacerating memoir of family dysfunction. St. Germain was a 20-year-old college student when his mother Debbie was shot to death in 2001 by her fifth husband in a desolate trailer in the Arizona desert, a disaster that threw into sharp relief the chaos of his working-class background. St. Germain revisits Debbie’s unstable life as an Army paratrooper and businesswoman, the string of men she took up with (some physically abusive), and his own boyhood resentment at their presence and at incessant domestic upheaval. Intertwined is a jaundiced, somewhat self-conscious meditation on St. Germain’s claustrophobic hometown of Tombstone—all sun-bleached ennui, arid hardpan, and tourist kitsch—and its presiding spirit, Wyatt Earp, archetype of the violent, trigger-happy machismo that he blames for killing his mother, yet feels drawn to as a touchstone of manhood. St. Germain makes harsh judgments of the men in his past (as well as of his sullen, callous adolescent self), but as he seeks them out later, he arrives, almost against his will, at a subtler appreciation of their complexities. At times his trauma feels more dutiful than deeply felt, but his memoir vividly conveys the journey from youthful victimization toward mature understanding. (Aug. 13)
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