Half the House / Edition 2

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“Ultimately a story of love, reconciliation, and triumph over adversity.”—Library Journal

“A scorching account of the dark underside of family life.”—Richard Selzer

“Wonderfully written.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A book of unsparing and at times brutal candor . . . reminding us of the fragility of childhood and the costs it exacts upon the adults we become.”—The Washington Post

The hardcover publication of this unflinching memoir resulted in the arrest of an alleged child molester and the following headline: “Author’s Writing on Abuse Brings New Victims Forward.” In a new afterword to this tenth-anniversary edition from New Rivers Press, Richard Hoffman writes about the events his book set in motion, the cries for help he received from men across the country, and the talk he had with an 11-year-old boy who thanked him “for making it stop.”

But this autobiography, about a blue-collar family struggling to care for two terminally ill children as the third child, the author, is subjected at age 10 to sexual abuse by his coach, is also a moving work of literature and a testament to the healing power of truthtelling. It is a “spare, poignant” memoir (TIME) that “offers heartening evidence . . . of the human capacity to endure and prevail” (The Washington Post).

Richard Hoffman’s work, both prose and verse, has appeared in numerous literary reviews and anthologies. Half the House was awarded the Boston Athenaeum Readers’ Prize in 1996. His most recent book is Without Paradise (Cedar Hill), a collection of poems. He is currently writer-in-residence in the Department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College; he also serves on the faculty of the Teachers as Scholars Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is currently a Massachusetts Cultural Council fellow in fiction.

Hoffman tells the story of a family repeatedly visited by death and suffering, of a wounded boy burdened with a terrible secret, of a father and son estranged by grief and anger. More than a boyhood memoir, this book is at once a moving elegy, an indictment of violence, a father and son story, and a moving testament to the healing power of remembering.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``He was the man I loved and the man I feared; a pair of images in the Viewmaster that I fumbled with, never quite able to click them into one.'' So writes the author of this moving boyhood memoir focusing on his father, whose wrestling with his own demons often estranged him from his family. Hoffman grew up in 1950s blue-collar Pennsylvania and early became acquainted with death-the deaths of his two brothers, disabled from muscular dystrophy-and with the attendant anger and sorrow that often pervades the lives of survivors. His mother's death; his alcoholism; his memories of sexual abuse by a coach, about which his father remained silent, became parts of Hoffman's troubled adulthood. In recovery, he was able to return to his father's house with his own children, open a dialogue with his lonely father and exorcise negative feelings, replacing them with hope and understanding of the past. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Hoffman's work has appeared in literary journals such as the Hudson Review, Kansas Quarterly, and Shenandoah; he currently works at a health clinic. His childhood, which he recounts in this memoir, was shattered by the deaths of two young brothers with muscular distrophy, abuse from his father, and sexual molestation by a coach. For a period, Hoffman himself turned to alcohol and drugs. His memoir is ultimately a story of love, reconciliation, and triumph over adversity. Hoffman's spare style makes his story all the more affecting, as he skillfully interweaves the beautiful and ugly details of growing up in a working-class family in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Returning home to confront his father, Hoffman writes, "I was shrinking....I felt a split-second shock that my feet reached the floor." In the end, he does become a man, reconciles with his father, and brings his own children to visit. His memoir will be of interest to public libraries as well as to some academic and special ones.-Nancy Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, N.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898232288
  • Publisher: New Rivers Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2005
  • Series: Many Americas Rediscovery Series
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 190
  • Sales rank: 1,392,685
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Hoffman

Richard Hoffman's prose and verse have appeared in numberous journals, including Agni, Ascent, Harvard Review, The Literary Review, and in anthologies. Among numerous awards, the most recent is The Literary Riview's Charles Angoff Prize. He is Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College and teaches at the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast MFA program.

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Table of Contents

Traveling by Moonlight 1
The Solid Earth 14
The Giving 33
Suddenly I Meet Your Face 44
Catch and Release 52
Movement of Natural Light 59
Black Ash Pinwheel 72
Spending the Day with Donald Trump 79
Women of the Brown Robes 84
Battle of New Orleans 95
Beauty of Tropical Places 105
The Vanishing 111
Alone with the Owl 114
Rough God Goes Riding 132
Acknowledgments 139
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