Half A Life
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Half a Life
by V. S. Naipaul
Half a Life is the story of Willie Chandran, whose father, heeding the call of Mahatma Gandhi, turned his back on his brahmin heritage and married a woman of low caste—a disastrous union he would live to regret, as he would the children that issued from it. When Willie reaches manhood, his flight from the travails of his mixed birth takes him from India to London, where, in the shabby haunts of immigrants and literary bohemians of the 1950s, he contrives a new identity. This is what happens as he tries to defeat self-doubt in sexual adventures and in the struggle to become a writer—strivings that bring him to the brink of exhaustion, from which he is rescued, to his amazement, only by the love of a good woman. And this is what happens when he returns with her—carried along, really—to her home in Africa, to live, until the last doomed days of colonialism, yet another life not his own.
In a luminous narrative that takes us across three continents, Naipaul explores his great theme of inheritance with an intimacy and directness unsurpassed in his extraordinary body of work. And even as he lays bare the bitter comical ironies of assumed identities, he gives us a poignant spectacle of the enervation peculiar to a borrowed life. In one man’s determined refusal of what he has been given to be, Naipaul reveals the way of all our experience. As Willie comes to see, “Everything goes on a bias. The world should stop, but it goes on.” A masterpiece of economy and emotional nuance, Half a Life is an indelible feat of the imagination.
From the Hardcover edition.
Half a Life
by Darin Strauss
In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life. In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad’s Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then: a classmate swerved in front of his car. The collision resulted in her death. With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey—graduating high school, going away to college, starting his writing career, falling in love with his future wife, becoming a father. Along the way, he takes a hard look at loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and, at last, acceptance. The result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force.
Look for special features inside, including an interview with Colum McCann.
Half a Life
by Jill Ciment
Half a Life traces Jill Ciment’s family from Toronto to the California desert – -a landscape and culture so alien to her father that the last vestiges of sanity leave him. As madness engulfs him he becomes increasingly brutal and the family, grasping at survival, throws him out the door. Having no understanding that he has done anything wrong, he first lives in his car at the end of the driveway, waiting to be invited back in, before exiting completely from their lives.
Poor and fatherless, Ciment spends the years from age fourteen to seventeen, as a gang girl, a professional forger, a stripper, a corporate spy, and finally, a high school dropout who by age eighteen has seduced her art teacher, a man nearly three decades her senior and bluffed her way into college in an effort to shape a future.
Ciment is cutting, insightful and clearly unapologetic as she details the confusion and bravado of a child heroine whose dreams and tenacity allow her finally, to create the life she has been so desperately seeking.
Becoming a Man
by Paul Monette
Paul Monette grew up all-American, Catholic, overachieving . . . and closeted. As a child of the 1950s, a time when a kid suspected of being a “homo” would routinely be beaten up, Monette kept his secret throughout his adolescence. He wrestled with his sexuality for the first thirty years of his life, priding himself on his ability to “pass” for straight. The story of his journey to adulthood and to self-acceptance with grace and honesty, this intimate portrait of a young man’s struggle with his own desires is witty, humorous, and deeply felt.
Before his death of complications from AIDS in 1995, Monette was an outspoken activist crusading for gay rights. Becoming a Man shows his courageous path to stand up for his own right to love and be loved.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Paul Monette including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the Paul Monette papers of the UCLA Library Special Collections.
Half a Creature from the Sea
by Almond David
Half A Life-Time Ago
by Elizabeth Gaskell
A Study Guide for V.S. Naipaul’s “Half a Life”
by Gale, Cengage Learning
Life and a Half
by Sony Lab’Ou Tansi
Listed as one of the 100 best books on Africa, Life and a Half was Sony Labou Tansi’s response to the death of close friends during a bloody military and political crackdown in Congo. The novel takes place in an imaginary African country run by the latest in a series of cannibalistic dictators who has captured Martial, the leader of the opposition, and his family. Though shot, knifed, butchered, and bled, Martial’s spirit lives on to guide his followers in their fight against the dictators. Facing censorship, Tansi insisted that his book was a fable and that if he were ever given the opportunity to write about real events, he would be much more direct rather than follow the torturous paths of a novel. This crisp translation by Alison Dundy maintains the fast-paced action and bitingly satiric tone of the original.