I’ve been following Brianna Madia since just before the Dagwood incident. (If you know Madia, you know what I’m referring to.) Part of what drew me to her are her abilities as a storyteller. Full disclosure – I have been openly critical of how she feeds the social media beast, the dangerous devil-may-care attitude she employs that sometimes puts her dogs in very dangerous situations, and a lifestyle that comes across as more about the likes than the experience. I am critical, but I don’t hate her. There are some folks with a level of hatred that rises well above toxicity into a danger zone; I guess it comes with the influencer territory. When you are reading reviews of her first book, Nowhere for Very Long (HarperOne 2022), I encourage you to keep that in mind and weed out the bullshit.
I requested and received an advanced copy followed by a final version prior to publication. (The pub date is set for 4/5/2022.) And, as critical as I am of her, what drew me to and kept me as a follower is only amplified in the memoir; Madia is an extremely gifted storyteller.
Some minor issues: the memoir flows along chronologically for the most part, but some placements are a bit off – this is more noticeable toward the end where it is apparent a conclusion is being fumbled for. These misplaced sections are jarring and detract from the general feel of the memoir; it’s clear they are important sections, they just don’t really have a home in the work.
Madia is completely detached in some of the sections, especially the section concerning Dagwood’s incident. She writes from what I recognize as a place of self-preservation, one step removed, but it still reads raw.
I was quite impressed with how she handled her ex-husband throughout the work. It’s respectful and delicate. Her memories, even the bad ones, are soaked in the love she had for him – the love they had for each other. They were both Lost Boys; tragedy forced him out of Neverland and her further in.
While the memoir is about Madia’s “unconventional life” and her off the road experiences, it’s more about the internal struggles and workings of her head and heart. The pages are soaked in the darkness of depression. When she recalls a particular memory of taking the family dog with her while searching for her father’s new home so she wouldn’t be tempted to run off the road and kill herself or seeing the picture he kept in his new home of his stepdaughter and fighting back the red-hot heat of anger, the blackness creeps into the pages.
Nowhere for Very Long is about getting lost and finding yourself along the way. It’s about wearing the go-go boots, swimming naked, and getting a third (or fourth) dog. It’s about falling in love and growing apart. It’s about trauma and fear and guilt and shame. It’s about letting go and living. It’s about healing your inner child. It’s about hope.
It tastes like sunbaked earth that leads to a hidden spring that no one knows about but you. It smells like flowers growing wild and untamed. It sounds like howling at the moon.
Read this book.