Half in Shade

A memoir by Judith Kitchen

April 3, 2012 • 5.5 x 8.25 • 214 pages • 978-1-56689-296-4

A treasure trove of lost family photos illuminates a singular perspective on family, memory, and history.

When Judith Kitchen inherited boxes of family photographs and scrapbooks, they sparked curiosity and speculation. Piecing together her memories with the physical evidence in the photos, along with a sense of history and a willingness to speculate, Kitchen explores the gray areas between the present and the past, family and self, certainty and uncertainty. The result is a lyrical, ennobling anatomy of a heritage, family, mother-daughter relationships, and the recovery from an illness that captures with precision the forces of the heart and mind when “none of us knows what lies beyond the moment, outside the frame.”

About the Author

Judith Kitchen is the award-winning author and editor of several works of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, including Half in Shade: Family, Photography, and Fate. Her work has won the Lillian Fairchild Award, two Pushcart Prizes, and the S. Mariella Gable Award. She has served as judge for the AWP Nonfiction Award, the Pushcart Prize in poetry, the Oregon Book Award, and the Bush Foundation fellowships, among others. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Kitchen lives in Port Townsend, Washington, and serves on the faculty and as codirector of the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


“[Half in Shade] rewards a leisurely reading, with not only, as Kitchen promises, ‘patterns of American immigration and opportunities,’ but an experience that may open the eyes to the treasure chest of American experience found among those stepchildren of the arts—the snapshots. Kitchen’s book lets you know what a keen eye coupled with an alert and sensitive intelligence can see.” —Publishers Weekly

“Kitchen’s collaboration with the past serves as a reminder that we of the twenty-first century are neither the first nor the last to know heartbreak. Rather, we are simply one more snapshot in the collage of humanity—half-blurry proof that none of us are ever truly forgotten.” —LA Review

“Behind the beautiful language Kitchen employs and the poignant moments she unearths, it’s the theme of life’s instability that resonates most. . . . Using her imagination—and ours—Kitchen creates a testament to the veracity of art: sometimes the fiction is more real than the facts. More importantly, sometimes all the spectator needs to connect the dots is that uncanny sense of familiarity.” Brooklyn Rail

Half in Shade is well worth the read. Together with the photographs, it offers an entertaining, quirky, and sometimes profound trip down memory lane—even if the lane is not your own.” TriQuarterly Review

“Over a ten-year period, Kitchen worked on Half in Shade, trying to come to terms with an inherited collection of family memorabilia that enlightened as much as it confused. . . . Most compelling is her attempt to find out the things she does not know but suspects about her mother, including an unexpected romance.” BookSlut

Half in Shade: Family, Photography, and Fate, takes an intensive look at the intent behind 20th-century photography in general, with specific reflections on what any photo can tell us. . . . It can leave even the least nostalgic of readers wishing they had paid more attention.” —The Quivering Pen

“Kitchen’s invitation to look with her at the images she has gathered—a journey of seeking and finding or failing to find—is irresistible, and the company of her assuredly meditative voice makes a reader want to respond in kind. . . . Half in Shade glows with a kind of inspirational energy that will make this book eminently teachable.” —Water~Stone Review

Half in Shade is one of those rare, hypnotically enjoyable books that can be stretched out over many long, lazy afternoons or read in one sitting. Kitchen writes of photographs that ‘there is a mystery in a still moment. The very black-and-white of it. It serves as entry into another time, another place.’ The same could be said of her words.” —ForeWord Reviews

Half in Shade is the work—diligent and curious—of an innocent of sorts, a daughter, mother, and grandmother mapping family stories and myths using grainy images as her guide.” —No Such Thing As Was

“Kitchen’s ruminations linger long after Half in Shade is finished, leaving readers to question how much we really know about the people who become our parents.” Shelf Awareness

“Judith Kitchen has written a book that is at once clear and accessible and at the same time insistently complex. Her effortlessly constructed hybrids make Half in Shade part memoir, part speculation, part essay, a demonstration of the interactive art of seeing, and finally for me, a beautifully sustained meditation. It is at that meditative level that the book’s potent, unsentimental emotive power gathers.” —Stuart Dybek