Friday, January 2, 2009

Review: Losing Everything by David Lozell Martin

In Losing Everything, his first book of nonfiction, acclaimed novelist David Lozell Martin tells his wildest, most outlandish story yet -- his own.

One evening in the mountainous forest of his isolated West Virginia farmhouse, Martin became disoriented when searching for a horse who had wandered off the property. Wading through the dark and guiding his horse with a belt around its neck, Martin felt as though every step was taking him deeper into the mountains. Instead, he unknowingly spent the night walking in a wide circle that brought him back to where he started. This quickly became a metaphor for Martin's life. "The more lost I get, the closer to home I come."

After growing up with a violent father who nearly killed Martin's clinically insane mother, Martin pursued a writer's life with a vengeance, becoming vulnerable to struggles with alcohol, financial ruin, and legal feuds. Then, after a betrayal by his soul mate, Martin's sanity was in as much jeopardy as his mother's had ever been -- a state of mind that in his case led to gunfire, divorce, and at least one trip to the emergency room.

But Losing Everything is less about getting lost and more about finding your way home again. In his pursuit of stability, Martin uncovered lessons that might help others who have encountered loss: take pleasure in something as small as an ampersand, keep a list of people you know who have died, meet your own death like a warrior, and be glad you don't own a monkey.

Deeply personal yet surprisingly universal, Martin's story is for anyone who has wandered astray. If not a road map, his journey is a guide, providing hard-earned wisdom to illuminate the path home.

This was the second book that I read and reviewed for Elle Magazine. Again, this wasn't something I would have purchased, but I did enjoy it more than the first book I read for the program.

Martin had a rough childhood and problems as an adult. But unlike so many writers these days, he took responsibility for his actions. While the recognition of his destructive behavior may have been slow in coming, he did make changes in his life. I think this makes this book relevant in most people's lives. It's not about feeling sorry for yourself. It's about picking yourself up from the hard times and making this best of what is still to come.

There are a couple parts in the book that lost my attention some, but overall, I enjoyed Martin's journey to the bottom and back up. 3 stars

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