Sunday, December 11, 2011

SAY HER NAME by Francisco Goldman (2011) Grove Atlantic, 350 pages

I heard Francisco Goldman interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel during the International Festival of Authors here in Toronto and was impressed by his candor. He not only spoke openly about his vulnerability after the accidental death of his wife Aura two years after they married, but also about how writing this book because of its rawness helped him to face the blame that he continues to shoulder.

Judge this book by its cover as he invited us to do that afternoon. It is a photo of Aura's wedding dress, the same dress that he believed filled with her spirit as it kept him company while he wrote this mesmerizing novel.

What strikes me about SAY HER NAME, and it will you, as well, is how Goldman toys with the form of a memoir, encouraging each reader to reveal their shared experiences together, layer by layer. Like Michael Ondaatje, who similarly plays with the form in his recent and most accessible novel THE CAT'S TABLE, Goldman is winking a little here, dear reader. Yes, there are intimacies that actually occurred between him and his whip-smart, sexy young wife, but he has also used tools of the novelist's trade and imposed a narrative arc that is largely absent from life, to make your experience all the more satisfying.

Read SAY HER NAME, the novel Colm Toibin calls, "a beautiful love story, and an extraordinary story of loss." It is winsomely both.


Alison's Book Marks said...

I have has this book on my shelf longer than I'd like to admit. I also had the pleasure of meeting Francisco Goldman. I think it's time I read it...thanks for the wonderful review

Beth Hoffman said...

Though I usually shy away from anything that even so much as edges toward a love story, I have to say your review (which is gorgeous, by the way) has pushed me to the edge of adding this book to my list!

Katherine Govier said...

I hadn't seen this before, and just finished the book. It is a fine way of ordering grief so that it becmes compulsively readable. Goldman is extremely frank and not afraid to suggest that there were many undercurrents in his marriage. I think he has had his revenge on Aura'smother, btw.