Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Kirkus Reviews (Nonfiction)
A memoir of motorcycles and muscles, of obsession and grief, and of a young man who learned how to stay alive through literature.
At just forty-seven years old, William Giraldi’s father was killed in a horrific motorcycle crash while racing on a country road. This tragedy, which forever altered the young Giraldi and devastated his family, provides the pulse for The Hero’s Body. In the tradition of Andre Dubus III’s Townie, this is a deep-seeing investigation into two generations of men from the working-class town of Manville, New Jersey, including Giraldi’s own forays into obsessive bodybuilding as a teenager desperate to be worthy of his family’s pitiless, exacting codes of manhood. Lauded by The New Yorker for his “unrelenting, perfectly paced prose,” Giraldi writes here with daring, searing honesty about the fragility and might of the American male. An unflinching memoir of luminous sorrow, a son’s tale of a lost father and the ancient family strictures of extreme masculinity, The Hero’s Body is a work of lasting beauty by one of our most fearless writers.
About the Author
William Giraldi is the author of the of the memoir The Hero’s Body, and critically hailed novels Busy Monsters and Hold the Dark, which is soon to be a major motion picture from Netflix. He is fiction editor for the journal AGNI at Boston University. He lives in Boston with his wife and sons.
Giraldi writes with subtlety about the unsubtle world of clanging metal, exploring with frank tenderness the ways men form friendships and how those friendships can grow into love. The Hero’s Body is suffused with platonic masculine love, the love of weight lifting buddies and motorcycles and the men who ride them, in particular the author’s doomed father. . . . Giraldi has written a powerful and sympathetic accounting of the lengths men will go to discover themselves through the workings of their fragile and complicated bodies, and the ways they discover hidden strength.
— Michael Ian Black
A wise and thoughtful personal narrative as well as an illuminating portrait of a seductive, if hazardous, American subculture. . . . The Hero’s Body itself captures a merging of hard experience and literary aspiration. In this gathering of memories, a gifted writer has certainly found the right words.