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“My younger brother and I swamped our father’s mud boat. Selly claimed he couldn’t swim, which was bull. There was the boat and the river, and I always felt it was my job to change Selly for the better. To our credit, we both survived this childhood lapse in judgment, but maybe Selly and I were still out on the river in that sinking vessel, deciding if we should paddle or swim for it.”
Every week, the Bryant boys, Bishop and Selly, review their parables and attitudes at a sports bar, a process that forms an essential and often combative fragment of Bishop’s life.
Bishop compartmentalizes his marriage to Patricia away from these meeting with Selly, carving out a separate realm for his job as assistant principal in a rugged middle school. The gauntlet of school life thrusts Bishop from one crisis to the next. Patricia, a respected school administrator and Bishop's personal mentor engages him in an ascendant vision, offering a fineness unimagined in Bishops’ rustic youth. But Bishop questions his role and often wishes to retire or go back to teaching. And there is the unspoken history, the violent nature of Selly’s sons, Bishop’s own complicity in violence, and a disturbing incident involving Selly’s wife, Holly.
Enter Taz, their daughter, who spins impressively through their lives. Cheer tournaments, honor classes, and projection into highly competitive colleges; she embraces their finest hopes. But as the marriage fractures, Taz calls out Bishop's devotion to a brutal past and Patricia's infidelity. With Bishop's compartments imploding, tragedy strikes twice, and the rancorous parties—Patricia and Bishop, Selly and Holly—must forge a path to reconciliation and redemption. SLUGGING MY WAY OUT OF BANGKOK delivers powerful portraits hewn by confrontation and grief.