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Emerson alumnus Anthony D’Aries, a 2004 graduate of the Writing, Literature, and Publishing major, was recently featured on the front page of the Boston Globe “G” section. The article touches upon a myriad of aspects of D’Aries life: his new memoir, The Language of Men, his teachings of a literary class at the South Bay House of Correction, and his relationship with his father. It would seem that that relationship with his father served as the catalyst for the direction D’Aries life has taken.
“I was always fascinated with his voice, and the slang he’d use,” D’Aries said, whose memoir was recently published by Hudson Whitman. He credits his father’s communication style for his inspiration for the memoir, describing the language as “a hillbilly twang of the Looney Tunes dialect — Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam — mixed with the African-American jive of the dirtiest comedians — Redd Foxx or Richard Pryor. . . . He gave all of my mother’s sisters and my female cousins flirty, construction-worker-on-a-coffee-break nicknames: baby, suga’, sweets, momma, girl, honey.” This is the language of men that D’Aries sets out to translate.
The memoir is a coming-of-age story that centers around D’Aries grappling to understand his father, Don D’Aries, and his legacy, as D’Aries and his girlfriend travel to Vietnam. D’Aries’ then-girlfriend, now wife, counseled young women in the sex trade in the country, and D’Aries hoped that he could better understand the foreign land and, subsequently, better understand his father, who had been Army cook in Vietnam. The trip, combined with an interview with his father that spanned hours, provided D’Aries with enough material to write The Language of Men. The book has been endorsed by various New England authors, including Andre Dubus III, author of Townie: A Memoir.
But the Emerson alumnus’ accomplishments don’t end there. D’Aries’ attempt to understand the language of men through understanding his father’s language has inspired him to help other men do the same. He is currently teaching a literary class at the South Bay House of Correction to male inmates who are, for the most part, illiterate. D’Aries explains that not only are these men locked away from society, but their illiteracy also is a major aspect in keeping them alienated, as they are unable to express themselves in certain ways. He aims to help them learn to articulate their feelings through both writing and literature, and help them develop the belief that their own success is, in fact, attainable.