My Heart Is a Drunken Compass

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Domingo Martinez select media coverage: New York Times, All Things Considered, This American Life: The Mimis, This American Life: Getting Away with It, Diane Rehm Show, Publishers Weekly, This American Life: Is That What I Look Like?

My Heart Is a Drunken Compass select media coverage: New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Shelf Awareness, Texas Monthly, Seattle Times, Houston ChronicleKirkus Reviews, Seattle Weekly

Read an exclusive free excerpt from Texas Monthly magazine: The Hard Stuff

From Domingo Martinez, the National Book Award finalist and the New York Times best-selling author of The Boy Kings of Texas, comes a bittersweet narrative of love, grief, and family.

Praise for MY HEART IS A DRUNKEN COMPASS, by Domingo Martinez

“Domingo Martinez is irreverent, judgmental and unapologetic. At its best, his writing calls to mind the bravado of Junot Díaz, another foul-mouthed son of contemporary literature. Like “The Boy Kings of Texas” — Martinez’s first memoir, which was a 2012 finalist for the National Book Award and was recently optioned for an HBO series — his latest, “My Heart Is a Drunken Compass,” is a tragic comedy filled with wit and cultural insight. . . . Martinez’s voice, which seems like a cross between a border outlaw and an Ivy League scholar, is so self-assured it’s difficult not to get pulled into the story. Even when he hits rock bottom, he never loses his sense of humor, and his tenacity to survive is inspiring. If his raw will and Texan grit can’t save him, his writing just might.”New York Times Book Review

 “Domingo Martinez is an essential new American voice, and My Heart Is a Drunken Compass delivers on the promise of The Boy Kings of Texas. In a life of chaos and pain he manages to find grace, and humor, and—contrary to the title of this book—real moral purpose.This is a riveting book.”—Dave Eggers

“With passion and profound honesty, Martinez holds nothing back…Page after page, the captivating Martinez releases a flood of raw emotions in this tender and illuminating memoir well worth reading. When a man reaches the bottom of the barrel of life, he can either stay there or fight his way up; Domingo Martinez is a fighter.”Shelf Awareness

“One of the most anticipated books of fall 2014.”—Publishers Weekly

“As confident as it was courageous, Martinez’s seductive 2012 masterpiece, which was nominated for a National Book Award, focused on a world where brown girls bleach their hair to look white and beer is the go-to breakfast food. . . . In his sophomore effort, Martinez has abandoned that alienating inclusiveness. This time he’s elaborating on an intense personal disillusionment with the adult life choices he has made amid the pain of watching two people he dearly loves nearly die. . . . Though his eager readers will no doubt be curious as to what sustains a man who has lived on box wine, Xanax and pizza, the greater curiosity is what Martinez, who has produced two memoirs that unspool the tropes of identity writing in a form that often resembles a fine travelogue, will, with his ferocious wit and fearless self-examination, mine for us next.”
—Dallas Morning News

 “This tragicomic memoir is not just about the complications of family, but also about the power of narrative to heal and make whole. A passionate . . . account of personal redemption.”—Kirkus Reviews

 “To be an aspiring writer from a poor Mexican American family of heavy drinkers on the border might read tragic if it weren’t so hilarious in Martinez’s My Heart is a Drunken Compass. Might seem easier when he moves to the Northwest and tries to make like one of the civilized. Glazed, troubled, often lost, Martinez’s too hot, drunken heart is still awful funny in cool Seattle.”
Dagoberto Gilb, author of Before the End, After the Beginning and Woodcuts of Women


Praise for THE BOY KINGS OF TEXAS, by Domingo Martinez

His stories are as eye-poppingly and bruisingly painful as they are funny.”—Washington Post

“An emotional roller coaster rendered in exquisite detail.”—Publishers Weekly

“A finely tuned, sentimental family scrapbook inscribed with love.”
—Kirkus Reviews

[Magic] shows up everywhere in The Boy Kings of Texas.”
—Texas Monthly

“A hilarious and heartbreaking story. . . . Martinez has a gift for storytelling, with alternately good-natured and sardonic wit, and quirky pop culture reference points.”—Seattle Times


MY HEART FINAL COVERWith his trademark tragic-comical voice and engaging storytelling, Domingo Martinez once again delivers a deeply personal memoir full of wry asides and poignant reflections in MY HEART IS A DRUNKEN COMPASS: A Memoir (Lyons Press, November 18, 2014; 978-1-4930-0140-8, $26.95 hardcover).

Paralleling two life-changing episodes that begin identically, years apart, Martinez explores the painful complications of human relationships under duress that will separate families and lovers, force them back together, and then bond them over years of shared histories and choices both difficult and wrong. Martinez expertly explores the intricacies of modern families in crisis and badly matched lovers clinging desperately to illusions at the expense of happiness.

Another tapestry of colorful, remarkable characters unfolds as Martinez’s narrative engages the themes of maturity, addiction, and disordered living while he struggles with his inner demons in order to become a better person in a time of crisis. Family and social dynamics swirl around him as he tries to navigate a terrifying hurricane season of anguish and dissolution for almost everyone around him, and as he, too, falls apart completely, he finds his family, his redemption, and a new beginning as he writes his way out of the pain.

Domingo Martinez is the New York Times bestselling author of The Boy Kings of Texas, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2012, a Gold Medal Winner of the Independent Publishers Book Award, a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee, and has been optioned by HBO for an original series. Martinez’s work has appeared in Epiphany literary journal, Texas Monthly, The New Republic, Saveur Magazine, and Huisache literary magazine, and he is a regular contributor to This American Life. He has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and The Diane Rehm Show, and he was the recipient of the Bernard De Voto Fellowship in Nonfiction at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2013. Martinez is also a widely sought speaker on topics ranging from the contemporary Latino experience in America to the consequences and processes of writing memoir. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

More praise for THE BOY KINGS OF TEXAS, by Domingo Martinez

BKOT coverWith The Boy Kings of Texas, a new and important truth about those Rio Grande Valley border towns like Brownsville and McAllen has finally emerged, one that takes into account the brainy boys of the barrio who read Cyrano de Bergerac between waiting tables at the Olive Garden, and play hooky at the Holiday Inn in order to discuss foreign films. Sure, there have always been stories about smart kids who want to leave town or risk going nowhere in life. In the Valley, where there is also a high chance of succumbing to border violence, Martinez unveils the lives of smart kids who feel they need to leave town or else simply die of boredom.”
—Dallas Morning News

“Martinez’s story is heartrending and uncomfortable, but he maintains a surprising sense of humor that keeps his reader cringing and rooting for him. A starkly honest memoir of growing up on the Texas-Mexican border in the 1970s and ‘80s, with a wry twist.” —Shelf Awareness

A spirited confession in the tradition of smart, self-deprecating comedies about young manhood like Robert Graves’ Good-Bye to All That and early Philip Roth. Martinez weaves artful comic asides with anecdotes about poverty so crushing that it leads to the death of his friends.”Texas Observer

“Domingo Martinez writes like an angel—an avenging angel who instead of bringing wrath to a fallen world redeems it by using beautiful prose to turn the most awful and gritty realities into transcendent gems. . . . What a voice, what a story, what a testament to the transforming power of self-knowledge and the right choice of words.”
—Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana, winner of the National Book Award

“This compelling, often heart-warming book explores how Martinez and his family tried to find their place in Brownsville. . . . The Boy Kings of Texas alternates between serious, often violent stories, such as the uncle who beats up Martinez in a cocaine-fueled rage, and humorous stories showing his family’s softer, loving side. Often, the most moving chapters combine humor with a dark undertone. For example, Martinez writes about how his sisters dealt with their own feelings of inferiority by creating two blonde, Anglo alter-egos.”San Antonio Express-News

“There is no easy resolution to this personal journey told through a series of anecdotes that range from hilarious to heartbreaking. Martinez simply splays out the different chapters of his life with a raw honesty that dispels the myth of the big happy Hispanic family and critiques the codes of machismo that lead to reckless choices. An incredibly engaging read and full of colorful characters that keep the writing vibrant . . .”—El Paso Times

One thought on “My Heart Is a Drunken Compass

  1. Pingback: HBO Options The Boy Kings of Texas | Lyons Press

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