Darin Strauss’ Half a Life is an intensely personal experience. The raw and relentless prose made me turn within and question who I am. Not that I have had the same experience as Strauss – who accidentally ran over a girl when he was a teenager – but that I have moments in my life that make me shudder, make me turn back and wonder who that was that went through that. Where is that person in the me that is now?No one who encountered me in classrooms, at a frat party, the campus center, noticed the fierce inner battles I’d fought to make the different Darins into a Darin that friends could recognize.
The rawness of his prose is reminiscent of Joan Didion’s devastating The Year of Magical Thinking.
It is especially clear in the delicate descriptions of every moment, every thought, always returning to the same thing, someone who is gone.
I remember the first time after the accident my name was called in the class, the feel of pause and hush in the room, like deer scenting something strange. Everyone’s ears and tails flicked.
Strauss’ story is a compelling narrative, a personal journey that won’t leave you alone, that prods your memories and makes you think. Relationships are physics. Time transforms things – it has to, because the change from me to we means clearing away the fortifications you’ve put up around your old personality.