Darin Strauss's Half a Life
is impossible to put down. The book's artful design caught my eye before I even began reading: the thick, fine paper, maroon cloth binding and only half of a paper dust jacket begged me to find out what story it held. Once I opened the pages and began, I found no chapters, no preface and no epilogue. Strauss tells his sorrowful tale in short fits of spare prose and I whisked through the pages, hoping he would find peace or at least resolution in the struggle to share his grief.
Strauss's honesty is both recognizable and foreign. The author's words are recognizable, and at times, uncomfortable, because his physical and emotional responses to the tragedy reflect our own experiences, our own inner dialogue with secret guilts and regrets; yet, they are also foreign to us since we are used to carefully hiding our own such struggles and we...
Beyond the Book
Risks on the Road
According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration's (NHSTA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System, of the 34,172 fatal automobile crashes in 2008, 718, about 2%, were cyclists like Celine Zilke. A much higher number of fatalities, 4,414, were pedestrians. Trend data between 1994 and 2008 shows a slightly decreasing number of non-motorist fatalities in Celine and Darin's age range, but deaths of older non-motorists, particularly between ages 45 and 54 have significantly increased.
Though automobile accidents in general are the number one cause of death for Americans between the ages of 3 and 34, the NHSTA 2009 report recorded vehicle-related fatalities at their lowest level since 1950. The number of people hurt in...