Regular Contributor Denise Neary is back today with a review of a memoir by acclaimed fiction writer Darin Strauss (CHANG AND ENG).
I am a sucker for the beautifully written tragedy. I love to read about horrific events and wonder: what would I do; how would I react? Usually, my preferred choice for beautiful tragedy is fiction:
The Lovely Bones. The Scarlett Letter. Most of Shakespeare.
I eat up sad stories with a spoon and now I have a new favorite. A beautiful book about the saddest event.
Half A Life, A Memoir, by Darin Strauss, is the true account of the unending consequence of one moment in Strauss’ young life.
As a senior in high school, Strauss was driving when a cyclist veered across two lanes. The car hit the cyclist; she died. Witnesses on the scene and a trial all concluded that he was not at fault.
He was not at fault, but he had killed someone.
Strauss’ life has been unalterably marked by this event — he carries that moment with him, trying to live a life honoring him and the young woman who died. He is not given to the same level of petulance that I can summon when “my” subway is twenty minutes late and is tough on himself for any moments of self-pity; he is constantly aware that he is the person who lived.
He uses words with such power; his sad book is a joy to read.
If your looking for a memoir for your book club, the paperback version will be released later this month (and of course you can pre-order it now). There’s also a fascinating NY Times review and associated video that shed more light on the story. I promise, this beautiful book is guaranteed to have you thinking and talking.
— Denise Neary, Regular Contributor