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Home is Burning by Dan Marshall

Home is Burning

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Dan Marshall, on your first book!

by Dan Marshall

Quick take

Marshall writes poignantly about the anguish of losing his [father] bit by bit, and about the surreal, unwanted intimacy of ministering to a dying parent's body.

Why I love it

Kim Hubbard
People Magazine

So your mom is battling lymphoma and your dad's been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. Do you: (a) prove you're the world's best son by moving home to take care of them, (b) swill wine, get fat and pretend none of it's happening, or (c) use crude humor (bring on the fart jokes!) to ease the pain? Dan Marshall chooses all of the above and the result is this laugh-through-your-tears memoir that you won't soon forget.

Dan was 24, a self-described "asshole" and an account executive at an L.A. PR firm, when his father Bob got the devastating news. Dan had grown up with illness—his mother Deb was in her fourteenth year of living with cancer, kept in check with periodic chemo, so Dan and his four siblings initially thought they could handle this threat too. "I'm going to live a long, long time," Bob kept saying.

But Lou Gehrig's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), doesn't care if you're only 55 and a marathon runner. Within a year Bob is confined to a wheelchair in the family's Salt Lake City home, immobile and barely able to speak. With Deb back in chemo, Dan and his brother reluctantly move back to Utah to become his primary caretakers.

Marshall writes poignantly about the anguish of losing his adored "pal" bit by bit, and about the surreal, unwanted intimacy of ministering to a dying parent's body, performing the daily hygiene tasks he once did for you. But the book also highlights how crucial humor is for the family's sanity after they're dealt a lousy hand. When Bob gets a communication machine to speak for him, Dan programs it with shortcuts like, "If you loved me, you would put three shots of gin into my feeding tube," and "Boy, I could use a blow job."

From one of life's cruelest inevitabilities—losing a parent—Dan Marshall has fashioned a remarkable memoir. This wacky, profane family will open your eyes, make you laugh and cry, and win your heart.

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42 ratings
  • 36% Love
  • 40% Like
  • 14% Dislike
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