About this Item
Quantity Available: 1
Title: Half a Life
Publication Date: 1996
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Edition: First Edition
About this title
Jill Ciment weaves an unforgettable tale of survival, compassion, and courage, in this haunting recollection of a child surrounded by confusion and madness, and her struggle to find an identity.
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.
" I found myself devouring Half a Life with the surreptitious pleasure I had in reading Catcher in the Rye under the bedcovers of my suburban youth.... For innocent bravado, Ciment has the adolescent me grinning like a co-conspirator. For bending over with bareassed honesty, she has the adult me drop-jawed with awe"
"Tender, unsentimental and filled with moments of contagious joy and heartbreak...Jill Ciment's..."half a life" is more than most people experience in a lifetime."
-- Publishers Weekly, starred review
"What is absent from this remarkable memoir-blame and self-pity-underscores what is present, the humor and empathy and wonder of a girl who moves herself from the grim periphery to the life she wants by sheer will. No stranger to irony, Jill Ciment does not try to inspire, but does exactly that."
-- Amy Hempel, editor of Unleashed and author of At The Gates to The Animal Kingdom
"An artful and fearless illumination of the cracks in the veneer of family. Ciment as an ersatz orphan is as brave as Huck Finn. Her prose is stunning for its clarity, for the Kodacolor quality of the picture she draws of a young girl inventing first herself and then the life she dreams of. Half A Life is a girl's version of Stop Time or This Boy's Life -- transcendent, inspiring, and proof of the indefatigability of the artist."
--A. M. Homes, author of The End of Alice and In A Country of Mothers
" Half A Life pulls you along a brief and quietly harrowing ride, not by dint of shocking confessions or exotic family traumas, but by its very self-discipline, absense of histrionics, and plain truthfulness. It is Portrait of The Artist for people raised in the rootless American Sixties, a non-heroic rendering of a girl's great heroism. Ciment's honesty is at once searing and soothing and her voice is low key, yet compelling. It is like having someone whisper her life right into your ear as she sits next to you on a train speeding through the absolute heart of the night."
--Scott Spencer, author of Endless Love
"Jill Ciment's book strikes the right note from the beginning and never loses it. This is how contemporary memoir ought to be written: with humor, poetry, insight, emotion, and no whining. The prose is deft and clear and angled; every page holds pleasure and surprises. You can't help caring about these people--especially the narrator and her father, two great characters. That all this family sorrow has been redeemed by the compassion and discipline of literary art is something of a miracle."
--Phillip Lopate, author of The Art of the Personal Essay
Praise for The Law of Falling Bodies:
"A writer blessed with an uncommon gift for language, a keenly observed and beautifully written novel."
-- New York Times
"Beautiful, saddening, one-of-a-kind."
-- L.A. Times
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