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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

November 05, 1995|ERIKA TAYLOR

HALF THE HOUSE by Richard Hoffman. (Harcourt Brace: $20; 172 pp.) Growing up in a Catholic, blue-collar family, young Richard is beaten by his father and sexually abused by a football coach. As a result, he lives partly in a secret world where biting his own arm is the only way to remain "in the present." At night, Richard tries to receive psychic messages from Martians who could possibly provide the cure for his two brothers' mysterious illness--muscular dystrophy.

"Half the House" is as stark and graceful as a bare winter tree. Hoffman has no real ax to grind, doesn't ask for pity and, most important, isn't selling any cures. In all of its complexity, this is a very simple book.

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