An extended poetic gaze on intergenerational helplessness and the violence it begets... Dandro expertly balances a child’s-eye view with authorial empathy. This gloriously scribbled story doesn’t rest on easy morals, or even attempt to forgive the past—Dandro’s triumph is drawing the reader through both the pain and beauty of his upbringing, and then moving forward.Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
A DYNAMIC AND DEVASTATING MEMOIR ABOUT THE CYCLE OF TRAUMA CAUSED BY ADDICTION WITHIN ONE FAMILY
From a child’s-eye view, Travis Dandro recounts growing up with a drug-addicted birth father, alcoholic step-dad, and overwhelmed mother. As a kid, Dandro would temper the tension of his every day with flights of fancy, finding refuge in toys and animals and insects rather than the unpredictable adults around him. Dandro perceptively details the effects of poverty and addiction on a family while maintaining a child’s innocence for as long as he can.
King of King Court spans from Travis’s early childhood through his teen years, focusing not only on the obviously abusive actions, but also on the daily slights and snubs that further strain relations between him and his parents. Alongside Dandro’s birth father committing crimes and shooting up, King of King Court lingers on scenes of him criticizing Travis and his siblings. Dandro gives equal heft to these anecdotes, emphasizing how damaging even relatively slight traumas can be to a child’s worldview.
As Travis matures into young adulthood and begins to understand the forces shaping his father’s toxic behaviours, the story becomes even more nuanced. Travis is empathetic to his father’s own tragic history, but unable to escape the cycle of misconduct and reprisals they are caught in. King of King Court is a revelatory autobiography that examines trauma, addiction, and familial relations in a unique and sensitive way.
Praise for King of King Court
King of King Court is engrossing. Travis Dandro has the rare ability to look back at his childhood with eyes wide open—not only the hardships, but just as crucially, the moments of humor and goodness. The book almost seems to be written and drawn by a precocious little kid with the supernatural ability to see and hear everything. Visceral, idiosyncratic, funny, terrifying. It's really remarkable.Nick Drnaso, cartoonist of Sabrina
The straightforward narrative and deceptively simple drawings lend to Travis Dandro's memoir great tension and superb emotional power. King of King Court brims with equal parts existential terror and profound, complex love.Lauren Groff, author of Florida
Beautifully constructed story that greets tragedy and pain head on and offers a way out. We can create our own stories. We don't have to remain in the stories of others. Well done, Travis Dandro!Deborah Ellis, author of Looking for X and The Breadwinner