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Say Her Name Hardcover – 1 Aug 2011
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"Passionate and moving... beautifully written... the truth that emerges in this book has less to do with the mystery of [Aura's] death... than with the miracle of the astonishing, spirited, deeply original young woman Goldman so adored... So remarkable is this resurrection that at times I felt the book itself had a pulse." --The New York Times Book Review
"To call Francisco Goldman's book about the death of his young Mexican wife an elegy hardly represents it. Lament is closer, but insufficient. It is a chain of eruptions, a meteor shower; not just telling but bombarding us in a loss that glitters. With the power and fine temper of its writing, it is as much poem as prose... Tense set pieces, respectively heartbreaking and chilling... generate the book's propulsive drama. What they propel, though, is its most remarkable achievement: the incandescent portrait of a marriage of opposites." --Boston Globe
"We may feel we know something about love's burn, the scorching heat of loss, but reading this book is to stand in front of a blow-torch, to take a farrier's rasp to raw nerve ends. Say Her Name is wrenching, funny, powerful, and beautiful." --Annie Proulx
"This is a beautiful love story, and an extraordinary story of loss. Say Her Name has a forensic honesty, a way of treating each detail, each moment, each emotion, with detailed and exact care. It also has a way of holding the reader, of moving between Brooklyn and Mexico City, capturing the essence of two worlds, capturing the essence of two people who were lucky enough to fall in love."
'It's the must-read novel of the summer... both a beautiful evocation of love and loss, and a searing dispatch written from within a personal Ground Zero.' --Sunday Times
'It leads the reader into Goldman's private underworlds, and somehow, sure-footedly, manages to navigate a way out.' --Observer
'Passionate and moving... beautifully written... the truth that emerges in this book has less to do with the mystery of [Aura's] death... than with the miracle of the astonishing, spirited, deeply original young woman Goldman so adored... So remarkable is this resurrection that at times I felt the book itself had a pulse.' --New York Times Book Review
'We may feel we know something about love's burn, the scorching heat of loss, but reading this book is to stand in front of a blow-torch, to take a farrier's rasp to raw nerve ends. Say Her Name is wrenching, funny, powerful, and beautiful.' --Annie Proulx
'This is a beautiful love story, and an extraordinary story of loss. Say Her Name has a forensic honesty, a way of treating each detail, each moment, each emotion, with detailed and exact care. It also has a way of holding the reader, of moving between Brooklyn and Mexico City, capturing the essence of two worlds, capturing the essence of two people who were lucky enough to fall in love.' --Colm Toibin
`What makes Say Her Name so unforgettable, apart from the beauty of the writing, is that the book is written partly as a love story but also partly as a moral trial.' --Evening Standard
In the summer of 2007, Francisco Goldman's young wife Aura died suddenly on a beach in Mexico. Say Her Name is the novel born out of this personal tragedy-an extraordinary tale that weighs the unexpected gift of love against the blinding grief of loss. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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by Francisco Goldman
I heard about this title on Wisconsin Public Radio and was riveted by the author's candid as well as incredibly heart-breaking account of his wife's death in a bodysurfing accident.
In the first few chapters I went back and forth from feeling sorry for this man's broken heart to thinking; geez buster, things happen, get on with it. Then I began to see the tapestry he so cleverly wove in order to try and understand how one's destiny could possibly be anticipated. To understand death and where it comes from and to dig for possible signs is the beginning of his quest...
New York Times bestselling author Francisco Goldman thought he'd found his true love in Aura Estrada, an intelligent graduate student in creative writing twenty years his junior. He was smitten.
"...had a kind of magical, like the clairvoyant empathy of a holy child, and I remember thinking that everybody at least now and then should react like that to the world's murderous horrors."
Since Goldman is also an award-winning journalist, he approached his wife's death, after only two years of marriage, as only a writer can--he wrote. Flowing from the past to the present Goldman pieces together Aura's life through her diaries, interviews of her many friends as well as studying many of her computer documents. Interestingly, he also studied the science of waves and used this powerful metaphor as almost a separate character; the Villon. A man obsessed with trying to understand; a man driven to keep the memory of his wife as alive as possible. Yet what is this mysterious thing called memory?
"Sometimes it's like juggling a hundred thousand crystal balls in the air all at once, trying to keep all these memories going. Every time one falls to the floor and shatters into dust, another crevice cracks open inside me."
A tragic sub-plot Goldman's broken heart is further burdened with is Aura's mother suspecting him of murdering her only child. It seemed obvious from the very beginning that this wasn't the case, but it isn't until the last 50 pages that the complete truth of what happened on that beach in Mexico is painfully revealed.
Goldman's anguish over losing the love of his life is a paradox of the truest romance perhaps ever written. He found a true love and in typical romance fashion he lost it. His message to the world is this:
"Hold her tight, if you have her; hold her tight, I thought, that's my advice to all the living. Breathe her in, put your nose in her hair, breathe her in deeply. Say her name. It will always be her name. Not even death can steal it. Same alive as dead, always. Aura Estrada."
Goldman's writing is lovely and the part about Aura's death is particularly strong. The problems with this book are the characters, none of whom is particularly likable. Now, I don't need to "like" the characters of a book to find value in it; for instance, Tova Reich's characters in all her novels are just plain base and venal, but I adore her work.
And that's the difference between non-fiction and fiction. In works of fiction, the characters are just that, "fiction". You don't have to worry about running into them on the street and finding them just as odious in the flesh as they are on the page. Non-fiction characters - and that's what, basically Goldman's characters are - ARE real. Some of the minor ones are composites and Goldman makes other, inexplicable, changes, like changing the name of the college he teaches at. The main characters, Goldman, his young wife, her mother, her father, her stepfather, Goldman's parents, etc, I presumed to be real. There's not an example of good mental health among them and many of them act in ways to others that can only be described as "passive-aggressive". Or "aggressive-aggressive", in some cases.
None of that is necessarily bad in a book, if the nuts are at least sometimes presented with a touch of humor. Unfortunately, there's not much humor in this book; it is, after all, a book about a promising young woman's tragic death at an early age and the loving friends and family she's left behind. It shouldn't be funny, that's not appropriate, but somehow, I was finding the family dynamics of this screwy bunch so dreadful that I was laughing while reading. And it wasn't written to be humorous! I'd love to read a psychiatrist's view of these people. Now that would be interesting reading.
I suppose what I'd like to say is that Goldman IS an excellent writer and this book is beautifully written. He's particularly good with flash backs of his and Aura's lives - both separately and together. I just wish I wasn't afraid I'd ever meet some of the characters in a dimly lit alley...
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