The headlines that followed the publication of this unflinching memoir provide stunning testimony of its power to move readers to empathy, outrage, and action: “Poet’s memoirs lead to arrest of alleged child molester,” “Author’s writing on abuse brings new victims forward.” Even before these events, however, the book had won the acclaim of critics such as Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post Book World who wrote, “Half the House offers heartening evidence, to borrow William Faulkner’s phrase, of the human capacity to endure and prevail.”
Against the back-drop of post-war, blue-collar America, Half the House tells a story both intensely personal and universal. Depicting his family’s struggles to care for two of his brothers who are terminally ill, Hoffman also recounts the horrific abuse he suffered in secret at the age of ten by his baseball coach. In a memoir Time magazine called “spare and poignant,” the author explores the ways in which grief and rage become a tangled silence that estranges those who need each other’s love the most, and demonstrates the healing power of truth-telling in both the personal and public spheres.
“Hoffman makes very clear the complex encounter of his old life and his new one. There are no easy wrap-ups, no comforting bromides. But in the generational panorama we suddenly discern that a hard, brave victory has been achieved. The family saga has come full circle. Hoffman, sober, a father, has not only lived to tell the tale. He has worked to understand it and fashion it into art.” —Sven Birkerts in The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again.
“Spare, poignant.” —Time
“Ultimately a story of love, reconciliation, and triumph over adversity.” —Library Journal
“Compelling.” —Boston Globe
“A moving boyhood memoir.” —Publishers Weekly
“As stark and graceful as a bare winter tree.” —Los Angeles Times
“Half the House offers heartening evidence, to borrow William Faulkner’s phrase, of the human capacity to endure and prevail.” —Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World
“A wonderfully written and heart-wrenchingly sad debut.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A scorching account of the dark underside of family life. A powerful depiction of childhood as Purgatory and the scars left on the man who survives.” —Richard Selzer