Gathering Noise from My Life

A Camouflaged Memoir

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226 pages

“Donald Anderson’s wonderful memoir Gathering Noise from My Life comes to us like memory itself, in bits and fragments, a scramble of time and geography. Slowly, the anecdotes and images, the quotations and news stories, accumulate in our minds, and Butte (Montana), Vietnam, and America itself in the 50s, 60s, and 70s re-emerge fresh and vivid. If memoir is where a life and history merge, where memory becomes art and art feeds memory, then this is fine memoir indeed.”—Elliott Gorn, author, Dillinger’s Wild Ride: The Year That Made America’s Public Enemy Number One

“Donald Anderson’s Gathering Noise from My Life is a masterful exploration of the personal set within the wider landscape of history. Hard-hitting, tender, humorous, erudite, and lyrical all at once, it brilliantly extends the possibilities of the modern memoir. It refuses to pull its punches or to fall victim to the anesthesia of nostalgia. That said, it is a generous book, one that invites the reader to participate in constructing the human frame from the disparate fragments and disrupted narratives otherwise left to ruin within the warehouse of memory. Highly recommended.”—Brian Turner, author, Here, Bullet

“Donald Anderson’s Gathering Noise from My Life functions as a brilliant kaleidoscope, the author’s life refracted and reflected through the mirrors of his memory. Composed of vivid moments from Anderson’s life, as well as snapshots of American history and incisive quotes from literature, the book is an innovative memoir that continually asks the reader the question: ‘Is memory what happened or how you felt about what happened?’”—Siobhan Fallon, author, You Know When the Men Are Gone

The noise gathered from a lifetime of engaging with war, race, religion, memory, illness, and family echoes through the vignettes, quotations, graffiti, and poetry that Donald Anderson musters here, fragments of the humor and horror of life, the absurdities that mock reason and the despair that yields laughter. Gathering Noise from My Life offers sonic shards of a tune at once jaunty and pessimistic, hopeful and hopeless, and a model for how we can make sense of the scraps of our lives. “We are where we’ve been and what we’ve read,” the author says, and gives us his youth in Montana, the family tradition of boxing, careers in writing and fighting, the words of Mike Tyson, Frederick the Great, Fran Lebowitz, and Shakespeare. In his camouflaged memoir, the award-winning short-story writer cobbles together the sources of the vision of life he has accrued as a consequence of his six decades of living and reading.


from "Part One"

I can’t help but see the carport, its paled Fiberglas, except for the nail holes, resisting weather, moths, rust, and time. This manufactured overhead product had outlasted my old man. I’d thought his shelf life would have pressed on, like Fiberglas, or gold, or copper, Styrofoam, sealed Twinkies, MoonPies, the sproutable wheat found in the tombs of Pharaohs.

[ . . . ]

I knew a heroin addict in college named Sally who owned a health food store named Good. Sally would only drink water-processed decaffeinated coffee.

[ . . .]

I did not buy a hybrid. I bought a full-sized SUV with an engine as efficient as a sumo wrestler’s heart.