Review: Love & Fury by Richard Hoffman

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Love & Fury by Richard Hoffman

Richard Hoffman’s latest memoir (released today by Beacon Press!) is a striking reflection on fatherhood and Hoffman’s upbringing in a post World War II blue-collar family. He writes honestly about the racism and sexism he sees in his upbringing and faces these issues head-on as he discusses the imprisonment of the father to his grandchild. His narrative is not politicized but instead details his experiences in the flawed justice and prison systems. The memoir, while weighty, unflinchingly deals with issues of addiction, racism, and the “love and fury” inherent in family relationships.

This will not come clear. It can’t. There is no binary good/bad, glad/sad conclusion to be reached. When I have spoken of my family in the past, there is always someone who wants to know how such love and fury could coexist, and I don’t understand the question. It seems either naive or disingenuous. Families seem to me to be made of love and fury. The world is mostly water; we are mostly water, but we don’t ask how such hydrogen and oxygen can coexist. We just drink it and live. Maybe we wish it were champagne, or root beer, or cider, but we’re not foolish enough to wish it were liquid hydrogen or liquid oxygen.” (28)

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