A Hole in the World
An American Boyhood Tenth Anniversary Edition
When he first published A Hole in the World in 1990, Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Rhodes helped launch and legitimate a decade-long publishing phenomenon—the memoir of abused childhood. In this tenth anniversary edition, Rhodes offers new reflections on the abuse he and his older brother endured at the hands of their terrorizing stepmother and negligent father. He also describes readers' powerful and moving responses to his book, considers his changing sentiments as the years have passed, and provides additional details on his brother Stanley, who remains the author's true hero in this moving memoir.
“Unlike too much of what is offered for public edification (and titillation) in this our age of confession, A Hole in the World comes straight from the heart with no apparent self-serving motives. Richard Rhodes is here to tell us three things, all of them important and useful. The first is that it is dangerous and self-deluding to sentimentalize a myth of idyllic American childhood. The second is that a child caught in a hell not of his own making must devise strategies for survival and must cry out for help; there are others, outsiders, ready to provide it. The third—and to those caught in their own torment the most important—is that it is possible to escape, to rise above hurt and rage, to live a life that is useful and good. A timely contribution to the literature of a problem we are only beginning to understand.”
—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post.
“The deepest significance of Rhodes’s prose is its spring-fed clarity. He writes: ‘My unconscious early prose—it was largely unconscious in those days because I thought the only way I could write was to get drunk first—screens a predicament I struggled desperately to steady at [school] and continue to work forty years later to resolve: how to calm and to rescue the lurching monster of overwhelming, intractable, involuntary rage that my mother’s suicide, my father’s neglect and my stepmother’s violence installed in me.’ To judge from the simplicity with which he has woven his memories into narrative, and from it constructed his identity, the monster of rage has been laid to rest.”
—Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York TimesSee all reviews...
“A Hole in the World must be read through tears—the reader’s and the writer’smdash;and it must be acknowledged as powerful a bearing of witness, as dark a story of cruelty, as redemptive a proclamation of the soul’s strength as we have been given in a very long time. Nothing by the prolific and talented Rhodes prepares us for this shattering testimony.”
—Frederick Busch, Los Angeles Times
“An important theme in Rhodes’s massive, brilliantly researched The Making of the Atomic Bomb is secrecy and its corrupting, ultimately destructive effect on our lives. Not surprisingly, this is also an important theme in A Hole in the World. . . . His searing story is clearly meant to be a kind of exorcism for him, an attempt to remember his past with such painful clarity that denial, forgetfulness and emotional displacement will no longer drive him into the mute language of repetition.”
—Russell Banks in the New York Times Book Review
“A powerful book. At a time when society is just beginning to acknowledge the pervasive and lasting effects of child abuse, the stalwart honesty of Rhodes’s memoir provides a compelling testimonial.”
—San Francisco ChronicleSee fewer reviews...