All The Wild Children: A Noir Memoir

Josh Stallings, Author, Tad Williams, Introduction by
Josh Stallings. Snubnose, $15.99 paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4826-0191-6
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Josh Stallings has lived a hard life: his father was abusive and left his family; his mother was absent much of the time; he and his older brother, Lark, get into drugs and crime. As Josh grows older, he meets Erika and they fall in love and get married. Erika becomes pregnant and they have two sons. Josh struggles to make it as a film editor in Hollywood and feed his family, while grappling with his own addictions to cocaine and alcohol. As his sons grow older, Josh struggles further—his elder son is disabled and his younger son has severe drug problems of his own. Stallings's memoir opens with a focus on the older son, but quickly delves into his own checkered past. The author vacillates between being unrepentant for his past behavior and feeling tormented that his choices adversely affected his sons' chances at happiness. Stallings is clearly a skilled writer, but his family members are not fully developed, and this makes it difficult for readers to invest in them as characters. Still the author's bravado, honesty, and emotion are present throughout.
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