(Reviewed by Don Jung)
How does a young twenty-two year old learn to live in an unfamiliar land with no friends or family and make it his home?
Joseph anticipated being drafted into the Viet Nam War and, like so many American college students who wanted to avoid the military, he chose to leave the United States. So instead of showing up for his military physical exam, he flew to Montreal in November 1967. He applied for Canadian citizenship, but it turned out to be more difficult than he ever anticipated.
Unlike some Canadian immigrants, he had no relatives or even a master plan on how to sustain himself in a strange new setting. In his memoir, Life After America, Joseph Mark Glazner talks about his difficulties in getting by along with his various jobs and romantic affairs. For example, as a writer by profession, he went from job to job with little success.
Though his parents lived in New Jersey and could visit him, he couldn’t return to his home state since he landed on the “FBI Wanted” list for failing to report after being classified “1-A.” I found this sad as he could not be a part of major family events or be available when his family needed him.
There are some humorous moments though. He finally landed a job as a staff writer at a tabloid similar to that of the National Enquirer. He found himself creating wild stories about alien sightings and exposing romantic issues of celebrities that really never happened.
I found the bigger issue to be that when you don’t believe in war, you have to decide what you think is best for you and how you will ultimately live with your decision.
Just when the story seems to slow down, he writes about his chance to participate in the John and Yoko Lennon’s Bed-in for Peace on May 24, 1969 in Montreal. As a friend of famed publicist Derek Taylor, he got involved in a major “anti-war” protest with one of rock’s pioneer legends. It’s a memorable event that made him realize that the war was over for him, though not for Americans.
Life After America will appeal to those interested in the tumultuous times of the late 1960’s. For me, it allowed me to relive it.