cover image Friendly Fire: A Fractured Memoir

Friendly Fire: A Fractured Memoir

Paul Rousseau. Harper Horizon, $29.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4002-4795-0

Rousseau recounts how he survived a gunshot wound to the head in this unique and haunting account. In 2017, the author was in his on-campus apartment a month before college graduation, cleaning up a mess left by his roommate and best friend, Mark, when he felt “something” come at him through the wall, leaving him “blindsided, tackled into a pool of cough syrup.” That “something” was a bullet, accidentally fired by Mark from two rooms away. Afraid of the consequences, Mark didn’t call for help immediately, delaying critical care for Rousseau, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and severe PTSD. With punchy, insightful prose, Rousseau details the fallout, including the rift the incident caused between him and Mark, the financial challenges he faced as he tried to pay his medical bills, and the toll it all took on his psyche (“As my body has gotten better, my mind has gotten worse,” he tells his physical therapist). Certain details are infuriating, including Mark’s insurance company employing hack doctors to squash Rousseau’s personal injury claim; others are unsettling, including Rousseau’s assertion that the ordeal turned him into “a rabid brute whose sole intention is to destroy.” The result is a mesmerizing and unforgettable meditation on a stranger-than-fiction tragedy. Agent: Michele Mortimer, Darhansoff & Verrill Literary. (Sept.)