Tufts E-News --Publishing Parts of Life
Afterseries of acclaimed memoirs about personal struggles, Tufts graduateBrendan Halpin is testing his hand at fiction. Boston
Boston [09.17.04] For the first time, Brendan Halpin is writing aboutsomeone else’s life. Following two critically-acclaimedmemoirs that offered poignant, raw and powerful insights intohis personal experiences, Halpin tried his hand at something new:fiction. With “Donorboy,” the Tufts graduate weavesan imagined tale that retains all of the human emotion of hisfirst two books.
“Halpin’sgreat gift as a writer is to hold his reader’s heart intwo worlds simultaneously – one achingly funny, the otherheartbreakingly sad,” author Alison McGhee told Random House,describing “Donorboy.
The book– which tells the story of an orphaned 14-year-old girlwho goes to live with her sperm donor father after a tragic accidentkilled her two mothers – hit bookstores in August.
“Toldentirely through email, instant messaging, journal entries andother random communications, “Donorboy” is the comic,compellingly readable novel of how these two people learn to converse,cook, write heavy-metal songs, and nail windows shut on theirway to becoming a family,” reported Random House.
The bookhas many of the emotional highs and lows that defined Halpin’sfirst two memoirs.
His first– “It Takes a Worried Man” – was createdfrom a journal he kept when his wife, Kirsten, was diagnosed withbreast cancer and had chemotherapy treatments.
“Ihad to do it. I had to do it in order to stay sane, or at leastas close to sane as I could,” the Tufts graduate told NationalPublic Radio. “The stuff just poured out of me.”
Halpin neverintended for his story to be published. According to CincinnatiCity Beat, the writer gave a copy of his journal to some closefriends who sent it to a literary agent. The agent wanted to publishit and Halpin agreed in order to give readers a chance to seea man’s side of coping with breast cancer.
The memoirwas as powerful as it was honest.
“Where[Halpin] really packs a punch is in saying the unsayable, andfor this he must be applauded,” reported London’sThe Times.
The New YorkTimes agreed.
“Halpinwrote with impossible spark and astonishment about the roller-coasterexperience of coming to grips with his wife’s cancer diagnosisand treatment,” reported the Times. “[He has a] giftfor turning a memoir into an antidote to misery. It’s awriting lesson well worth learning.”
Learning,as it turned out, was the very subject Halpin tackled in his secondmemoir.
“Losing My Faculties” – written about the dailystruggles he faced as a teacher surrounded by passionless educatorsand endless bureaucracy – maintained the emotional honestyof his first book.
In what TheArizona Republic calls “an irreverent, heartbreaking, dumbfondinglyfunny book about love, fear and perseverance,” Halpin strugglesvainly with himself to confront the high school administrationeach time around.
“I’mstanding here watching the dream of a school in which teachersmake important decisions dying in front of my eyes,” hewrites. “But is it worth it?”
Like everythingelse Halpin has done, the answer is yes.