This Is Only a Test
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This Is Only a Test

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Description

On April 27, 2011, just days after learning of their pregnancy, B. J. Hollars, his wife, and their future son endured the onslaught of an EF-4 tornado. There, while huddled in a bathtub in their Alabama home, mortality flashed before their eyes. With the last of his computer battery, Hollars began recounting the experience, and would continue to do so in the following years, writing his way out of one disaster only to find himself caught up in another. Tornadoes, drownings, and nuclear catastrophes force him to acknowledge the inexplicable, while he attempts to overcome his greatest fear-the impossibility of protecting his newborn son from the world's cruelties. Hollars creates a constellation of grief, tapping into the rarely acknowledged intersection between fatherhood and fear, sacrifice and safety, and the humbling effect of losing control of our lives.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 180 pages
  • 133 x 203 x 10.41mm | 150g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • Break Away Book Club ed.
  • 025301817X
  • 9780253018175

Review quote

While This Is Only a Test mixes memoir, storytelling and research in a way that can be labeled creative nonfiction, Hollars writes in an accessible, personable voice. A high school student could read this book, and appreciate much of it. * Milwaukee Journal Sentinel * In a series of short, entertaining essays, Hollars meditates on natural disaster and fatherhood. He tells of disasters he has been a party to . . . while cleverly relating them to his experience of fatherhood. The point being, it seems, that becoming a father is its own kind of natural disaster, but with more positive results. . . . A great collection to dip into or read sequentially, this book is surprisingly sunny, given its subject matter. * Library Journal * Throughout, Hollars underlines his fears for both himself and his family. His grave discussion emphasizes the helplessness we feel when faced with forces of nature beyond human control and the fear we experience when confronted with humans who cause mass destruction. The thread that binds these essays on death and mayhem is the author's love for his children and wife, which offers readers a respite from the inherent grief and devastation he poetically describes. * Kirkus Reviews *show more

About B. J. Hollars

B. J. Hollars is author of two award-winning nonfiction books, Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence and the Last Lynching in America and Opening the Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa, as well as Sightings (IUP, 2013) and Dispatches from the Drownings: Reporting the Fiction of Nonfiction. He is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.show more

Table of contents

AcknowledgmentsI. DizziedGoodbye, TuscaloosaA Test of the Emergency Alert SystemEpistle to an EmbryoTo the Good People of JoplinFifty Ways of Looking at TornadoesThe Longest WaitII. DrownedThe Girl in the SurfDispatches from the DrowningsBucketheadThe ChangingDeath by RefrigeratorIII. DroppedFabricating FearFort Wayne Is Still Seventh on Hitler's ListThe Year of the Great ForgettingHirofukushimaPunch LineBedtime StoryWorks ConsultedCreditsBook Club Guideshow more

Rating details

24 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 33% (8)
4 38% (9)
3 25% (6)
2 4% (1)
1 0% (0)
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