Raised in a loving Catholic family in Denver, Martin Moran was a star student who imagined that he’d one day become a U.S. senator. When he was twelve years old, a camp counselor seduced him, initiating a sexual relationship that would last three years–and haunt Moran’s life for decades. He discovered a passion for acting and built a career that would take him to Broadway, but only when Moran finally tracked down and confronted his abuser thirty years later could he finally forgive himself for someone’s else trespass.
Funny and tender about growing up Catholic and gay, The Tricky Part never oversimplifies either the abuse or the vexing work of recovering from it. This powerful story carries us to the heart of a paradox: that what we think of as damage may be the very thing that gives rise to transformation, even grace.
About The Tricky Part
With a New Afterword
Between the ages of twelve and fifteen, Martin Moran had a sexual relationship with an older man, a counselor he’d met at a Catholic boys’ camp. Almost thirty years later, at the age of forty-two, he set out to find and face his abuser. The Tricky Part tells the story of this relationship and its complex effect on the man Moran became. Told with startling candor and disarming humor, The Tricky Part carries us to the heart of a paradox: that what we think of as damage may be the very thing that gives rise to transformation, even grace.
About The Tricky Part
Between the ages of twelve and fifteen, Martin Moran had a sexual relationship with an older man, a counselor he’d met at a Catholic boys’ camp. Almost thirty years later, at the age of forty-two, he set out to find and face his abuser.
The Tricky Part tells the story of this relationship and its complex effect on the man Moran became. He grew up in an exemplary Irish Catholic family-his great aunt was a cloistered nun; his father, a newspaper reporter. They might have lived in the Denver neighborhood of Virginia Vale, but they belonged to Christ the King, the church and school up the hill. And the lessons Martin absorbed, as a good Catholic boy, were filled with the fraught mysteries of the spirit and the flesh.
Into that world came Bob-a Vietnam vet carving a ranch-camp out of the mountain wilderness, showing the boys under his care how to milk cows, mend barbed wire fence, and raft rivers. He drove a six-wheeled International Harvester truck; he could read the stars like a map. He also noticed a young boy who seemed a little unsure of himself, and he introduced that boy to the secret at the center of bodies.
Told with startling candor and disarming humor, The Tricky Part carries us to the heart of a paradox-that what we think of as damage may be the very thing that gives rise to transformation, even grace.
Martin Moran grew up in Denver and attended Stanford University and the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. He lives in New York City, where he makes his living as an actor and writer. He has appeared in many Broadway… More about Martin Moran
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"Marvelous, courageous and above all, thoughtful." —The Washington Post
"A story of sexual abuse and its seemingly endless halflife–remarkable then, that this isn’t a book about blame, but forgiveness."—Kathryn Harrison
“A subtly rendered and remarkably even-handed journey toward redemption.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Wise and heartbreaking…an astonishing balancing act of a book.”—Body and Soul
“Elevates the confessional to the level of art.” —Michael Cunningham
Lambda Literary AwardWINNER 2005
Martin Moran Forgiveness: A Personal Essay
When I was a kid, forgiveness was just a word the nuns wrote on the chalkboard. Something you might try to give to someone else after they’d been bad to you. Something Jesus or Buddha were up to, but not the likes of me.
When I was twelve, a camp counselor molested me. Our illicit sex went on for three years. I grew taller and older holding the boy inside me hostage because I blamed him for being bad, for doing wrong. I couldn’t help it, and it was agonizing. I got even older and started writing about what happened, became obsessed with remembering, with using language to seek meaning in my story.
A day would arrive when I stood to face a pasty old man crumpled in his wheelchair, the counselor who’d wronged me when I was a child. The one who ignited my aching complicity. I looked at that perpetrator, at his stained pajamas, his puffy cheeks and I felt my heart break. For the helpless human in front of me, yes. But more so for the boy I once was. And somewhere in that breaking was the beginning of forgiveness. Somehow, because I’d spent so much time piecing together the narrative of my own life, I was able to see, to feel, how that boy was blameless and how forgiveness was the gift I must give to myself. In writing, the role of victim fell away to reveal a much larger view: life’s passage out of innocence and toward self-knowledge. It amazes me still.