Out of Step: A Mem­oir

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews | Adult Nonfiction - MELISSA WUSKE

An­thony Moll Mad Creek Books (JULY) Soft­cover $18.95 (116pp) 978-0-8142-5482-0

En­list­ing in the mil­i­tary is a com­pli­cated choice for any­one, but it was es­pe­cially com­plex for An­thony Moll, a pink-haired bi­sex­ual man who signed on dur­ing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era. That shows just how ea­ger Moll was to get away from his hard-luck up­bring­ing and es­cape the claus­tro­pho­bic fu­ture that awaited him. Along the way, he learned about him­self and ex­plored the prob­lem­atic ques­tion of what it means to be a man in Amer­ica.

His in­con­gru­ous story is an un­likely meld­ing of a mil­i­tary mem­oir and a queer com­ing-of-age story, but the balanc­ing of these two gen­res is seam­less, show­cas­ing just how much they have in com­mon. It has typ­i­cal fea­tures of both cat­e­gories, cov­er­ing, for ex­am­ple, the grueling days of boot camp and the dam­age that ho­mo­pho­bia and hate speech cause for young LGBTQ peo­ple.

Weav­ing to­gether the jar­ring con­trasts and de­hu­man­iz­ing el­e­ments of both the mil­i­tary and the fight for LGBTQ re­spect, the book presents a com­pelling story of los­ing and find­ing an iden­tity. The nar­ra­tive grap­ples with the com­plex­ity of sex­u­al­ity and iden­tity, as well as with the com­plex­ity of for­eign pol­icy and what it means to be a na­tion in a world filled with other na­tions.

Vivid, vis­ual de­scrip­tions of peo­ple and places from be­fore, dur­ing, and af­ter Moll’s time in the army are in­cluded. Scenes are el­e­gantly crafted, mov­ing deftly between key mo­ments to cre­ate a co­he­sive nar­ra­tive.

Filled with raw emo­tion, wry hu­mor, and un­self­con­scious re­flec­tion, the story con­veys Moll’s un­wa­ver­ing sense of self in a re­fresh­ing, in­spir­ing way. The peace he’s made with him­self, in spite of and even be­cause of his un­con­ven­tional choice to en­list, is a com­pelling in­vi­ta­tion to all, no mat­ter their sex­ual iden­tity. Out of Step is a per­sonal story whose im­pact is far reach­ing and life af­firm­ing.

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