Half a Life

Darin Strauss, McSweeney's, $22 (208p) ISBN 978-1934781708
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. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 11/22/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 211 pages - 978-0-8129-8253-4
Prebound-Glued - 211 pages - 978-1-61383-122-9
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-1-907616-07-5
Open Ebook - 109 pages - 978-0-679-64382-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-98883-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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