Half a Life
In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life. In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad's Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then: a classmate swerved in front of his car. The collision resulted in her death. With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey—graduating high school, going away to college, starting his writing career, falling in love with his future wife, becoming a father. Along the way, he takes a hard look at loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and, at last, acceptance. The result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force.
Look for special features inside, including an interview with Colum McCann.
Strauss's spare memoir begins with a confession: "Half my life ago, I killed a girl." Strauss (The Real McCoy) readily acknowledges the problems of writing about this event, the result of a moment's distraction trying to avoid aestheticizing reality, questioning his own self-involvement, admitting to playing a role of contrition, even remarking that " tragedy turns a life into an endless publicity tour, a string of appearances where you actually think in words like tragedy'" yet a discomfiting tone pervades, and some of the author's concerns, such as those related to public perception, may alienate readers. As Strauss breezes through key events that span over a decade, he reminds us that life seldom involves the drama of deep atonement, epiphanies, unadulterated grief, or nightmarish flashbacks. A much more complicated mixture of selfish relief, sadness, and survivor's guilt informs the aftermath of unthinkable events, and what proves most frightening is the gradual awareness that one has begun to forget; forgetting contains not just the drive to move ahead, but also the fear of erasure. Strauss delivers an unexpected take on remorse with the maturity that only comes from earnest reflection.
I heard Darin interviewed on NPR and was immediately intrigued about his story. How does one go on having accidentally taken another's life? I wasn't disappointed -- this book was honest and while every once in a while I felt as if something wasn't being said, I felt the author told his story to the best of his understanding of what happened and how he moved on from it.
As someone who is intrigued by memoirs where people deal with traumatic events (The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion was another favorite) - this book was not depressing, but life-affirming in reminding us how bad things can happen and we can survive and eventually move on to better things.
I read it in 2 sittings-- I couldn't put it down and didn't want to.
Such a Boring Book!
I thought the whole general story was absolutely genius and I do appreciate him talking about his feelings but I didn't want to read 144 pages of his deep pain. I really wanted to know about what was happening at school and more. The ending,though, is by far the best ending to any book I've ever read.
If your in the mood for a sad sorry that doesn't seem to have any happiness throughout the entire book this is the one for you.