Darin Strauss dissects the one event that forever demarcates his life: as a teenager, he kills a schoolmate after hitting her with his car. To his credit, Strauss never once plays the pity card; instead he seems to question his every emotion and thought for signs of weakness. As he grows into adulthood, he shares his story with others and sits unflinchingly while they either excoriate or coddle him. No, this memoir is not for the faint of heart — demanding introspection and exhaustive emotional digging are the hallmarks of his life. Half a Life not only describes Strauss's life but also his schoolmate's life, and he mines this reality for all its subtle and explicit meaning. Kudos to Strauss for his strength in not only living this particular nightmare but for sharing it, as well. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
When he was three, in the early 1970s, Benjamin Anastas found himself in his mothers fringe-therapy group in Massachusetts, a sign around his neck: Too Good to Be True. The phrase haunted him through his life, even as he found the literary acclaim he sought after his 1999 novel, An Underachievers Diary,
had made the smart set take notice. Too Good to Be True
is his deeply moving memoir of fathers and sons, crushing debt and infidelity—and the first, cautious steps taken toward piecing a life back together.
“It took a long time for me to admit I had failed,” Anastas begins. Broke, his promising literary career evaporated, hes hounded by debt collectors as he tries to repair a life ripped apart by the spectacular implosion of his marriage, which ended when his pregnant wife left him for another man. Had it all been too good to be true? Anastass fierce love for his young son forces him to confront his own childhood, fraught with mental illness and divorce. His fathers disdain for money might have been in line with the 70s zeitgeist—but what does it mean when youre dumping change into a Coinstar machine, trying to scrounge enough to buy your son a meal? Charged with rage and despair, humor and hope, this unforgettable book is about losing ones way and finding it again, and the redemptive power of art.
"Elegant, painful, stunningly honest....huge [and] heartbreaking." The New York Times Book Review
"Darin Strauss has spent a good part of his adult life reliving, regretting and reflecting on a single, split-second incident. Half a Life is a starkly honest account of that fateful moment and his life thereafter....penetrating, thought-provoking." The Washington Post
"A book that inspires admiration, sentence by sentence....This is a memoir in its finest form, a fully imagined and bittersweet book that transcends a single misstep." Chicago Tribune
"Painfully raw and beautifully written." Los Angeles Times
“A remarkable, beyond-brave memoir.” O: The Oprah Magazine
"Lyrical and haunting." San Francisco Chronicle
Half my life ago, I killed a girl.
In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss recounts a tragedy and its aftermath. In his last month of high school, just after turning eighteen, Strauss is behind the wheel of his father's Oldsmobile, driving with friends — having "thoughts of mini-golf, another thought of maybe just going to the beach."
Then out of the blue: a collision that results in the death of a bicycling classmate that shadows the rest of his life. In spare and piercing prose, Darin Strauss explores loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and acceptance — and the result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force.
Acclaimed writer Benjamin Anastass searing, utterly moving memoir of fathers and sons, crushing debt and infidelity, and the first, cautious steps taken towards piecing a life back together.
About the Author
Benjamin Anastas is the author of two novels, An Underachievers Diary (1999) (hailed by Very Short List as "the funniest, most underappreciated book of the 1990s" on the occasion of its 2009 reprint) and The Faithful Narrative of a Pastors Disappearance (2001), a New York Times notable book, which Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) called "hands down, the best novel of the year." Hes published articles in the New York Times Magazine, Harpers, Granta, and elsewhere, and received the 2005 Smart Family Fiction Prize from The Yale Review. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and a recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Lannan Foundation. He teaches creative writing at Columbia University and the Bennington Writing Seminars.
Table of Contents
At the Church Door 1
Going Broke 5
The Real Life of an Author 19
Divorce Counseling 63
A Disturbance of Memory at the Brooklyn Flea 73
Too Good to Be True 83
One Beehive in Nicaragua 105
At the Wheel of the Haunted Sedan 125
Not This Guy 143
Unpaid Bills 153
Old Friends 157
The Tower Where I Work 167