Thursday, June 7, 2012

This Book Will Change Your Life - Half A Life by Darin Strauss.

Read. Travel. Rinse. Repeat. You know the drill. Our drill anyway. And so it is that we have read Half A Life by Darin Strauss, not so much a rumination on death, as much a rumination on living with death, a death you directly played a role in, if not outright caused. Which is different, much different than musing about the death of someone that you had nothing to do with, the death, not the person, and can't escape. And yes, we are projecting here, thinking about My Father's House and the recent interview we did in Rain Taxi. In that interview we talked about listening to Strauss talk about Half A Life. Strauss commented on how it had to be a memoir, and listening to him made us think about how the foundational material in My Father's House had ultimately felt like it had to be fiction, that we needed more latitude than real life seemed to allow us. Mind you that was before we read the book, and mind you, it's not that we're sure we feel any different now, but we are struck that as intimate and and tortured as one might be regarding the experience of losing someone you love, it seems impossible that it can ever be as intimate or tortured as a death you play a role in. We're also struck that we have absolutely no sense how torturous this must be, and even a book as well-crafted, and moving, as this one feels like it must barely capture what the second half of Strauss' life must have truly been like. Finally, any number of people have commented on how brave Strauss was to write all of this down, and it is brave of course, but it is also what writer's do, especially great writers like Strauss. They write, everything they know, everything they experience, they have to, they have no choice. Given this, we would like to offer a different take on the narrative surrounding Half A Life. And that take is this, what makes Strauss brave, is that even as he has struggled with and against this tragedy, he has somehow been able to live not just a writing life, but any life at all.

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