Monday, April 11, 2011

Half a Life

The two main reasons why I read Half a Life by Darin Strauss are 1) I got a free galley copy and 2) it was short. Strauss is the author of several other novels, such as Chang and Eng, which I haven't read. This book is a memoir about his life starting from age eighteen (half the age he was when he wrote this) when, while driving with friends, he accidentally struck and killed one of his classmates with his car.

The book explores the ways in which the accident becomes a constant shadow that follows him throughout the rest of his life. As Strauss talks about his feelings in the days, months, and years that follow, he constantly pauses to acknowledge that he knows he's being inherently selfish by focusing on himself instead of on the accident victim. Just when, as a reader, you start to get weary of this constant apologizing, he pauses to acknowledge the fact that he's aware he's over-apologizing. All of this serves as a multi-layered peek into his thoughts and, ultimately, makes him a very sympathetic narrator. There are some truly beautiful moments of writing, too. My motives in picking up this book may not have been very lofty, but I'm glad I did. I may even try to read some of the author's fiction in the future.

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