The Language of Men: A Memoir

By Anthony D’Aries

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Page count: 272
ISBN: 978-0-9768813-2-2
Pub Date: July 2012
Category: American Culture & Society

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Silver Independent Publisher Book Award Winner
ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Winner - (Autobiography/ Memoir)

“Hold the phone, kick down the door, and yell from the rooftops of all those American blue-collar towns that give birth to so many of our artists: a new one is among us, and his name is Anthony D’Aries. This man writes like Charlie Parker played the alto sax, with grit and verve and a willing free-fall into hard-won, illuminated truths.The Language of Men is a profoundly important book by a major new talent!”

—Andre Dubus III, Townie: A Memoir

Growing up in a working class town on Long Island, Anthony D’Aries watched his father rebuild muscle cars, groove to rock ‘n’ roll, slice meat at the local deli, and bring roadkill back to life in his taxidermy workshop. Anthony, the impressionable younger son, loved his father. Emulated him. Acted out visceral scenes from Taxi Driver and Raging Bull with his dad and older brother. Soaked up his father’s lurid wartime tales – the hooch and the hos in ‘Nam.

The Language of Men begins with Anthony’s search to learn who his father was. When he travels to Vietnam with his wife, Vanessa, who has a job leading health and anatomy classes for sex workers in Ho Chi Minh City, Anthony isn’t sure what he will find. Visiting Long Binh where his father was stationed, then seeing his relationship with Vanessa begin to deteriorate, Anthony arrives at realizations that begin to explain his father’s life, as well as his own troubling behaviors. Reluctant to deny or admit complicity, Anthony returns home to look for answers in his past.

What does it cost to speak the language of men? In prose that sings—sometimes defiantly, sometimes sadly, but always eloquently—Anthony D’Aries transports us to the crossroads of gender and history, then leads us through the unsettling terrain that creates fathers, sons, brothers, and husbands.

Anthony D’Aries, a graduate of Stonecoast’s MFA program, lives in Massachusetts and is Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program at Regis College. He teaches courses in creative nonfiction, writing as community service, and copyediting, as well as freshman composition. His essays have appeared in SolsticeThe Good Men ProjectShelf AwarenessThe Literary Review, and elsewhere. Recently, Anthony was appointed to the board of PEN/New England as Director of the Freedom to Write Program, which offers writing workshops for marginalized populations in prisons, halfway houses, and shelters. Anthony is the 2014-15 nonfiction fellow at The Writers’ Room of Boston. In 2011, Anthony was selected as Randolph College’s Emerging Writer-in-Residence. In 2010, he received the PEN/New England Discovery Award in Nonfiction. He has also taught literacy and creative writing in correctional facilities.

PRAISE

“The Language of Men isn’t just a beautifully written memoir about a Vietnam vet father and the complicated legacy he leaves to his son; it’s also a disturbing, brutally honest, darkly funny meditation on masculinity, violence, and sexuality. Anthony D’Aries is a writer to watch.”
— Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers

“This book is an impressive debut for a young writer. Mr. D’Aries has many admirable traits, including a distinctive style. It is a pleasure to keep company with him in these moving and insightful pages.”
— Tracy Kidder, Strength in What Remains

“Anthony D’Aries has allowed his Vietnam War veteran father to speak to us without filters. This is a brave and candid journey into a post-war American father-son relationship and into the unsentimental, dynamic complexities of Vietnam’s own post-war realities. The Language of Men made me think, pause, and re-think about masculinities in wars and post-wars.”
— Cynthia Enloe, Nimo’s War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War

“In The Language of Men, Anthony D’Aries tells a father and son story so honest and clear that it illuminates the lives of all of us, men and women alike. As he explores his own patrimony in nuanced and supple prose, he comes to understand the distorted, self-defeating version of masculinity he’s been bequeathed. Disassembling inherited ideas about women and war and sex and death, the way he disassembled household appliances as a boy, D’Aries enacts a painstaking inquiry into the nature of love, friendship, conflict, marriage, and family. Here is a writer who is nobody’s fool, who is without a shred of cynicism, and who means every word. The Language of Men is a work of great beauty and power.”
— Richard Hoffman, Half the House

VIDEO

Anthony D’Aries

(The Language of Men; 6/2012) reads an early draft of his memoir at Randolph College’s Visiting Writer Series.