In the fall of 2008, Tyrel Nelson returns to the United States after teaching English in Ecuador for a year. Although living overseas was quite an adjustment for the Minnesotan, the months to follow (mostly spent around his stomping grounds) bring on life changes far bigger than anything he had encountered in South America. Fortunately, his pop and confidant, Jay, is there to guide Tyrel through his depression in the Great Recession, which is not only caused by a stretch of joblessness but also exacerbated by the breakup with his longtime girlfriend.
The days slowly start to look brighter for the writer nevertheless. He unexpectedly finds love again. He eventually finds work that is meaningful. Just when he turns the corner, though, Nelson runs into another awful trot: he learns his best friend is going to die.
Those Darn Stripes captures an intimate and intense period which precedes and succeeds the death of Ty’s father. Using his bond with nature—a connection he learned from and shared with his dad—the author pictorially sets the scene of each vignette, taking his readers to meet memorable gals and gents, on foreign jaunts, to old haunts, and through moments that continue to haunt him.
“In his third book, Tyrel Nelson offers a patchwork of lovingly constructed vignettes that interweave themes of change, loss, and joy, all while managing to preserve a light-hearted and inspiring tone. Written in straightforward and sparse language, his narratives touch upon the impact of fleeting interpersonal encounters as well as the enduring effect of past and present relationships. Throughout his short collection of stories, Nelson's prose deepens and matures to mirror the effect that significant life changes have had upon his emotional psyche. Through his prose, seemingly ordinary journeys become powerful stories that engagingly transform the banality of quotidian encounters into opportunities for remarkable life transformations. These moving stories are both touching and inspiring. They are not easily forgotten, as they speak to the essence of our human community.”—Andra Bosneag
"An emotional and thoughtful read, I recommend this book to all."
"Nelson displays his many vulnerabilities in a way that captures his extreme emotions, during both happy and sad events. Those Darn Stripes is a fascinating work opening the doors on life, love, and meaning."
"It’s hard not to develop a fondness for a person who is so fearless in sharing their successes and equally, their failures. And though there are an endless amount of paths to explore, Those Darn Stripes is a journey you’re sure to enjoy."
"Those Darn Stripes by Tyrel Nelson is a poignant, wide-ranging collection of prose, with a special focus on the loss of his father. The author's lean style captures life events in short-hand, making for a powerful read."
"The inspiring story of the author’s life with emphasis on his father and how he’s been influenced by him. Vividly and honestly written!"
Getting thoughts onto paper can be a cathartic and healing exercise. For class of '98 Eagan High School alum Tyrel Nelson, this process not only helped him publish his third book, but also provided an outlet to deal with his grief following the passing of his father this past Valentine's Day.
"My original intention with this project was to reveal more of myself, and I believed that if I was going to do so, I had to show all of my stripes, whether they were pleasing, embarrassing, or just plain ugly," the 31-year-old said.
Nelson had completed more than 15 stories for this book when he found out that his father, Jay Nelson, had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer last October. Chapters 18-25 of "Those Darn Stripes" deal with Nelson's life after receiving the news.
"I was with him every day until he passed away," Nelson said. "I'm very lucky to have had those last four months with him."
Writing the book helped Nelson come to terms with what he had felt during those last few months of his dad's life. The book was largely written as tribute to his dad, whom he also dedicated it to. He encourages people to read the book to understand the impact his father had on his son's life.
"I feel the world lost this wonderful man, and I wanted to share that with the readers," Nelson said.
Ultimately, Nelson hopes this book honors his dad, who he considers to be his mentor, and whose wisdom he has taken to heart.
"He was my best friend," Nelson said. "I talked to him every day. He wore his heart on his sleeve and he was a very proud man. What you saw is what you got with my dad. I hope to reach that level of self-confidence someday."