An acclaimed author reflects on his upbringing in a post–World War II blue-collar family and comes to terms with the racism, sexism, and other toxic values he inherited.
Love & Fury tells a story that comprises five generations of an American family, examining the continuing impact of history as it shapes the lives of people struggling with the complexities of contemporary life. From the author’s grandfather, a “breaker boy” sent down into the anthracite mines of Pennsylvania at the age of ten, to his young grandson, whose father is among the estimated one million young black men incarcerated today, Love & Fury offers an examination of the social, familial, and ethical contours of American life. With honesty and compassion, Hoffman grapples with the values he inherited in his boomer-generation boyhood from a father whose ideas about masculinity, race, class, violence, women, and religion were a product of his time.
At the book’s core are the author’s questions about boyhood, fatherhood, and grandfatherhood, and about what it means to be a good man in our modern society. A masterful memoirist, Hoffman writes not only to tell a gripping story but also to understand, through his family, the America in which we live.
Advance praise for Love & Fury
“In a time when so much American writing seems to be inspired by situational comedies on television, by blockbuster films and sexy blogs, what a soul-saving joy it is to encounter Richard Hoffman’s masterful and necessary Love & Fury. What makes Hoffman so good at the memoir form is a rare combination of honest self-scrutiny, fairness, intellectual rigor, and emotional bravery. But what makes this book so important is what Hoffman excavates here layer by layer: how shaped and often shackled we are by the past, one that is bloody, racist, patriarchal, and as class- stratified as ever. With a poet’s ear and a short story writer’s eye, this fine memoir will move you the way all great literature does—it will wake you up, it will make you see, it may even change how you live this one life you’ve been given.”
—Andre Dubus III, author of Townie: A Memoir
“A terrific memoir by an articulate writer who has honed his literary skills over a lifetime, who knows what he is thinking and feeling at every moment (as opposed to what he should be thinking and feeling), Love & Fury sets new standards for honesty, daring and bracing self-examination. Hoffman peels away the lies, vanities and convenient half-truths in a struggle to attain that rarest and seemingly least-valued of contemporary virtues, humility. He is aided by a pack of troubles, which keeps the story-telling tense, gripping and fierce. Hoffman shows us just how complex a business is it to try to be decent, day to day, in a perfect storm of ambivalence.”
—Phillip Lopate, author of Nothing Personal: Selected Writings
“Love & Fury says something true and revelatory about the broken but stubborn connection between fathers and sons. I read page on page with my mouth open, my own heart-breaking memories flooding alongside Hoffman’s. This is the book I needed—though when I took it up, I did not know that. I am grateful that this hard work has been done, and we have this comfort—an unsparing examination of just how resilient family can be.”
—Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
“Sifting the connections between our fathers and ourselves is often an exhausting, frustrating and somehow irresistible business. Few have explored them with such rigor, compassion and exemplary self-scrutiny as Richard Hoffman. His Half the House, brilliant and challenging, is an extremely tough act to follow; in Love & Fury, Hoffman manages it with characteristic candor, insight and grace.”
—Jabari Asim, author of The N Word
“A reckoning with searing disappointment, Love & Fury is, equally, the transformation of disappointment into the true expression that alone defines our hope.”
—James Carroll, author of Warburg in Rome