“The best of what memoir can accomplish… pulling no punches on the path to truth, but it always finds the capacity for grace and joy.” –Esquire, “Best Memoirs of the Year”
A TIME Best Book of the Summer * A Rolling Stone Top Culture Pick * A Publishers Weekly Best Memoir of the Season * A Buzzfeed Book Pick * A Goodreads Readers’ Most Anticipated Book * A Chicago Tribune Book Pick * A Boston.com Book You Should Read * A Los Angeles Times Book to Add to Your Reading List * An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Month * A 2022 New England Book Award Finalist
Isaac Fitzgerald has lived many lives. He’s been an altar boy, a bartender, a fat kid, a smuggler, a biker, a prince of New England. But before all that, he was a bomb that exploded his parents’ lives―or so he was told. In Dirtbag, Massachusetts, Fitzgerald, with warmth and humor, recounts his ongoing search for forgiveness, a more far-reaching vision of masculinity, and a more expansive definition of family and self.
Fitzgerald’s memoir-in-essays begins with a childhood that moves at breakneck speed from safety to violence, recounting an extraordinary pilgrimage through trauma to self-understanding and, ultimately, acceptance. From growing up in a Boston homeless shelter to bartending in San Francisco, from smuggling medical supplies into Burma to his lifelong struggle to make peace with his body, Fitzgerald strives to take control of his own story: one that aims to put aside anger, isolation, and entitlement to embrace the idea that one can be generous to oneself by being generous to others.
Gritty and clear-eyed, loud-hearted and beautiful, Dirtbag, Massachusetts is a rollicking book that might also be a lifeline.
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