Iowa Writer’s Workshop Graduate Recalls Life in Halfway House

May 13, 2020


This program originally aired on July 11, 2018. 

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate Tom Macher talks with host Charity Nebbe about his debut memoir Halfway. He reflects on his childhood, growing up in a commune and a boys home, and the path that led him towards alcoholism.

“I felt like [alcohol] was the thing that I had been missing my whole life,” Tom says. “It wasn’t that I was missing a relationship with my father, or whatever other hole we feel inside ourselves.”

While living in a halfway house in rural Louisiana, Tom Macher found kinship with other men with troubled backgrounds and broken families. Macher recalls the looks their group received when attending a nearby school.

“We were notorious already when we walk in the door,” Macher recalls. “You know everyone is doing their regular high school thing, and we're going back and detailing the parking lot in the back or picking trash in the gullies on the side of the road.”  

An Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate, Macher used writing to process the experiences that haunted him.

“I just noticed I was very guarded of myself and very protective of my privacy,” Macher says. “I was afraid of just hammering away at the sadness and bleakness of these stories and the people around me. Ultimately I had to just sit down and say, ‘Okay, I’m just going to present this as straightforward as I can.’”

 Macher will be reading from his book at 7pm on Wednesday, July 11th at Prairie Lights in Iowa City.