Gregory Pardlo

Air Traffic

Air Traffic

A Memoir of Ambition & Manhood in America

Knopf / Hardcover / 288 pages / ISBN-10: 1524731765 / ISBN-13: 978-1524731762

Release Date: April 10, 2018

Pre-Order: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / BAM / IndieBound / iBooks / Google / Kobo

From the publisher: 

The long-awaited extraordinary memoir and a blistering meditation on fatherhood, class, education, race, addiction, and ambition from beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gregory Pardlo.

Gregory Sr. is a charismatic air traffic controller at Newark International Airport, leading labor organizer and a father to two sons, bookish Greg Jr. and musical-talent Robbie. But, when “Big Greg” loses his job after the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Strike of 1981, he becomes a disillusioned presence in the household and a disconcerting model for young Greg’s ambitions. As Big Greg succumbs to addiction and exhausts the family's money on ostentatious whims, Greg Jr. rebels. He hustles off to boot camp at Parris Island, falls in love with a woman he follows to Denmark, drops in and out of college, and takes a job as a bar manager-cum-barfly at the family’s jazz club.

Rich and lyrical, Air Traffic follows Gregory Pardlo as he learns to be a poet, father, and teacher, as he enters recovery and hosts an intervention for his brother on national television. Throughout, Pardlo grapples with the irresistible yet ruinous legacy of masculinity he inherited from his father. This is his deeply-felt ode to Greg Sr., to fatherhood, and to the frustrating-yet-redemptive ties of family, as well as a scrupulous, searing examination of how manhood is shaped in contemporary American life.

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Praise for Air Traffic

"Pardlo's work is masterfully personal, with passages that come at you with the urgent force of his powerful convictions," — Kirkus Reviews

"Endlessly introspective, wide-ranging, and lucid, Pardlo's fearless inventory stuns with beautifully written, fully saturated snapshots of rich and complicated familial love." Booklist (starred review)

“With grace and edge, Greg Pardlo’s Air Traffic refuses to satisfy itself with easy epiphanies that might populate another book. Instead, it turns over these revelations like so many mossy stones to show the live creatures beneath: the broken promises and blemished mythologies and unexpected moments of grace that compost the soil of any life. Pardlo’s voice is smart, funny, restless, ruminative, and not quite like anything you’re ever read. Change that. Read this.” —Leslie Jamison

“Not just one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read—it’s an ice core drill through the complexities of American life. Each chapter illuminates how economics, class, labor relations, education, and race have shaped the American character, and the lives of the truly remarkable people here, with deep knowledge and with exquisite sentences that alternately surprise, move, and delight.” —Phil Klay, author of Redeployment 

 “A remarkable achievement, Air Traffic is a mordantly charming, raw, comic and wise blend of intellectual sophistication and deeply honest storytelling. It is also a glorious addition to the father-son memoir genre that extends from John Stuart Mill, Edmund Gosse and V. S. Pritchett to Geoffrey Wolff and Philip Roth. Gregory Pardlo has written a classic. ” —Phillip Lopate

"Unflinchingly honest and audaciously vulnerable, Air Traffic is a testament to what we must live through on the path to understanding what we are living for.” —Tracy K. Smith

Air Traffic is a book about love and unlikely odds, about what we inherit and how we escape. Greg Pardlo offers something magnificent here—a deeply personal investigation that pulls back the veil on our current national (and historic) malaise.... Pardlo has managed to pull a thread of truth from all the bullshit, and from that thread he has woven a life.” —Nick Flynn, author Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

“Air Traffic is at once a searing memoir of a crucial labor movement defeat, and a moving consideration of a father's legacy—a profound reflection on both the American past and present. And with it, Pardlo shows himself a memoirist to rival the poet he already is.” —Alexander Chee, author of Queen of the Night