Falling Through the Earth A Memoir

Danielle Trussoni




Trade Paperback

256 Pages



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A New York Times Best Book of the Year From her father, Danielle Trussoni learned rock and roll, how to avoid the cops, and never to shy away from a fight. Growing up, she was fascinated by stories of his adventures as a tunnel rat in Vietnam, where he risked his life crawling headfirst into holes to search for American POWs held underground. Ultimately, Danielle came to believe that when the man she adored drank too much, beat up strangers, or mistreated her mother, it was because the horror of those tunnels still lived inside him. Eventually her mom gave up and left, taking all the kids except one: Danielle. When everyone else walked away and washed their hands of Dan Trussoni, Danielle would not. Now she tells their story.
As Danielle trails her father through nights at Roscoe's Vogue Bar, scores of wild girlfriends, and years of bad dreams, a vivid and poignant portrait of a father-daughter relationship unlike any other emerges. Although the Trussonis are fiercely committed to each other, theirs is a love story filled with anger, stubbornness, outrageous behavior, and battle scars that never completely heal.


Praise for Falling Through the Earth

"The affection, respect and humor she brings to the task of revealing this complicated individual is testimony both to her creative abilities and to the generosity of her spirit."—Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times Book Review
"Trussoni's memories of a hard-knocks childhood are vivid and spiky, and she relays her father’s war stories with convincing bravado."—The Boston Sunday Globe
"A wonderfully complex and penetrating book. This is an accomplished debut from a writer with many talents."—Chicago Tribune
"Trussoni has taken an extended trip to hell and come back with treasures from that drunken, burning, broken place. She writes of the effects of war, the 'pity of war, and the pity that war distills' without a hint of self-pity, with surprising humor, disarming candor, a hard-won wisdom and with uncannily sure-footed prose. Even if this book were not urgently important and devastatingly timely, I'd still urge you to read it for the sheer triumph of the author's gift."—Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
"Trussoni's memoir is a richly textured history of her father's war and the long term effects his service had on her and her family. With Falling Through the Earth she delivers a salient and timely reminder that a war's victims aren't limited to those in uniform nor demarcated by geography. This is an important and harrowing story."—Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead

"Danielle Trussoni unflinchingly explores a daughter's love for her flawed father and confronts the demons that haunt them both. Falling Through the Earth is tender and tough, harrowing and triumphant."—Jeanette Walls, author of The Glass Castle

"Like the fearless father she takes after, Danielle Trussoni tunnels at her story from both ends: Through the rabbit hole of childhood, she explores a tumultuous divorce. From the trench of adulthood, she leads us through a country still poisoned by war. But Falling Through the Earth has an innermost chamber. It is a place of profound depth and beauty, where Trussoni unearths Trussoni herself."—Koren Zailckas, author of Smashed
"A superb memoir. Trussoni has composed a modern-day father-quest true-life story and by doing so she has bridged the gap between those who fought in the Vietnam War and those who grew up in the following decades . . . A captivating triumph."—The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)

"A heartbreaking story of missed connections, made all the more painful by the author’s refusal to indulge in self-pity . . . This excellent memoir is much more than the sum of its parts. Free from melodrama, Trussoni's remembrance describes with painful acuity how war can come home in the most subtle ways."—People

"Trussoni's debut is an engaging coming-of-age memoir that has at its core a stark portrait of her war-damaged father. On her trip to Vietnam, she goes into the tunnels that it was his job to search during his stint there in the late '60s Trussoni writes of the job—the smells, the heat, the danger, the fear, the killings—as though she had lived it. A moving memoir that flows like the best fiction but that has the punch of real life."—Kirkus Reviews
"An extremely engaging, novel-like narrative that leaves an indelible imprint on the heart and mind."—Library Journal (starred review)
"Trussoni has written a hell of a good memoir. Seamlessly combining memories of her Dad's inept parenting with his Vietnam stories (and her own from a recent trip), Trussoni vividly depicts the violence that was can do to veterans' families, but she also shows how easy it is to love a bad father. But Falling Through the Earth is not merely tragic: It's also vicious, unsentimental, and often quite funny. One of the best portrayals in recent memory of what it's like to grow up in a screwed-up, working-class family."—Booklist (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

ONEWinter of '85, and we were on the run.Dad veered the truck into an alley, cut across a parking lot, and merged with traffic running alongside the frozen Mississippi. "Cops don't come down this road," he said, checking the rearview mirror. "If they're here, it's because they followed us." My father was prone to paranoia, but the police were real. We'd been picked up twice for drunk driving that year. After the last arrest, he'd lost his license. We tried to keep a low profile, but the cops knew our truck and where we lived--Those sons-of-bitches got nothing to do
Read the full excerpt


  • Danielle Trussoni

  • Danielle Trussoni grew up in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her family. Chosen by Marilynne Robinson and James A. McPherson, Falling Through the Earth is the winner of the Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award.
  • Danielle Trussoni ©Kalin Ruichev
    Danielle Trussoni




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