Pardlo won the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize in 2007 for Totem. His second collection of poems, Digest, was awarded the Pulitzer in 2015. Both books explore questions of race, family, and American culture, themes that recur in this affecting memoir. By turns emotional, analytic, ironic, and angry, the book covers Pardlo’s youth, brief Marine reserves stint, false-starting college career, two marriages, alcoholism, and parenthood. At the heart of all his experiences is Pardlo’s complicated relationship with his father. Both blunt and cryptic, demanding and loving, Pardlo père was one of the 11,000-plus air traffic controllers fired by Reagan in 1981, an event with enduring emotional ramifications for both father and son.