"... it serves the additional purpose of raising awareness and prevention of the lifelong pain and damage caused by child abuse, wounds that Krapf reveals can be managed but never fully heal, wounds that can be reopened at any time."
-Natalie Hoefer, The Compass
"SHRINKING THE MONSTER is a challenging, but rewarding read for anyone who has suffered abuse of any kind, especially sexual abuse. No matter how long ago it was, if you haven't dealt with it, it is still dealing with you.
Norbert Krapf discovered this after a lifetime of writing prose and poetry celebrating his German and southern Indiana roots in such a transcendently simple and beautiful way, that he was named Indiana Poet Laureate from 2008 to 2010.
Yet lurking beneath this seemingly smooth surface, memories of his abuse by the parish priest were roiling and boiling. Eventually they erupted and his CATHOLIC BOY BLUES is the result of his not only heeding the muse as it led him down dark and frightening roads, but his profound courage in poetically sharing such horrors, not for horror's sake, but to be a light out of the darkness for other victims.
SHRINKING THE MONSTER is the tale of Krapf's bravery and willingness to face all the ugly truth once again, not only to be a light, but that his story could be a template of sorts for anyone who needs to shrink whatever monster is haunting them. Readers are led through the stages of recovery with an emphasis on the healing power of eventually being able to "tell their story" to others, even if only to a trusted friend.
Those who have been lucky enough to not have encountered childhood abuse, but know others who were victimized, will also greatly benefit from reading this powerful story of confrontation, healing, and ultimate redemption. As a survivor and psychotherapist, I find Krapf''s work very helpful both personally and professionally."
-Robin Church, Amazon 5 Star Review
"I’ve had the pleasure of reading the book of poems, Catholic Boy Blues, which inspired this memoir of reflection on the process of writing the poetry. In both books, as in his correspondence with me on his writing and work, Norbert has been generous and thoughtful. Both for the survivor of abuse and for the artist seeking to write (and publish) work on sensitive issues like this, the book is an excellent resource.
“Words, when aligned with right action, can heal,” Krapf writes, in the middle of the memoir. This one line speaks to a belief that grounds all of the poet’s writing on the topic. Like the book of poems it’s reflecting on, Shrinking the Monster is a book unabashedly therapeutic in intent. “I was keenly aware that in the academic and literary world there is a bias against poems concerned with mere ‘healing,’ ” Krapf writes at one point in the memoir, reflecting on his difficulty in finding a publisher for Catholic Boy Blues. Again here, as in CBB, the author takes pains to avoid anything overtly “literary.” Everywhere he strives for plain-spoken, easy-to-understand English and even addresses survivors of abuse directly with an entire “interlude” chapter.
Speaking from the perspective of a Catholic deeply frustrated with his own home diocese’s (St. Paul and Minneapolis) recent mishandling of clergy sex abuse cases, I found it heartening to hear the (mostly) warm welcome Krapf received for his book from officials in Indianapolis. As he points out, though, when a survivor of abuse has the courage to come forward, any hesitation or skepticism (or failure to communicate promptly) can “re-trigger” some of the pain initially experienced—and Krapf is forthright and thorough in his recounting of the entire process—both of publishing and publicizing his book.
It’s an important read, and one which I hope sends readers back to the poetry it’s reflecting on—Catholic Boy Blues."
-Zachary W. Czaia, Amazon 5 star review