Celebrated novelist Francisco Goldman married a beautiful young writer named Aura Estrada in a romantic Mexican hacienda in the summer of 2005. The month before their second anniversary, during a long-awaited holiday, Aura broke her neck while body-surfing. Francisco, blamed for Aura's death by her family and blaming himself, wanted to die, too. But instead he wrote Say Her Name, a novel chronicling his great love and unspeakable loss, tracking the stages of grief when pure love gives way to bottomless pain. Suddenly a widower, Goldman collects everything he can about his wife, hungry to keep Aura alive with every memory. From her childhood and university days in Mexico City with her fiercely devoted mother to her studies at Columbia University, through their newlywed years in New York City and travels to Mexico and Europe---and always through the prism of her gifted writings---Goldman seeks her essence and grieves her loss. Humor leavens the pain as he lives through the madness of utter grief and creates a living portrait of a love as joyous and playful as it is deep and profound. Say Her Name is a love story, a bold inquiry into destiny and accountability, and a tribute to Aura, who she was and who she would have been.
©2011 Francisco Goldman (P)2011 Tantor
"Out of crushing loss and despair, Goldman has forged a radiant and transcendent masterpiece." (Booklist)
"Goldman's searing novel Say Her Name is for me the book of the year. . . . A soaring paean to a brilliant young woman and to the infinite invincible power of love." (Junot Diaz, New York (Favorite Books of the Year)
"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)
This wonderful, moving memoir had me in tears from the outset. It really reminded me of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. Listen to this on your own, away from any distractions. Highly recommend.
"Should have stayed a magazine article"
The personal failed to transcend and become universal.
Goldman could have been a little less obsessed with diarising the relationship, and put more effort into a philosophical approach to the tragedy, thereby placing it in the broader scheme of his life.
Goldman's untrammeled adoration for his young wife prevented us from seeing what there actually was to adore. A little less telling, and a lot more showing could have made it more believable.
"Narrator sounds like he's selling breakfast cereal"
I would read it, not listen to it.
He had a brittle, perfectionist way of speaking that did not capture the character -like an English teacher or speech therapist instead of an actor. The material is very somber and sophisticated and his chipper, clean patter interfered with my being able to enjoy it.
read the book if I ever have time.
"Say her name...but not that way"
I looked forward to reading this book after reading and hearing many positive reviews.
However, I found the story to be lacking in focus, shallow at times, and the narrative rambled on like a distant uncle telling stories at a holiday dinner. But unlike listening to stories by said uncle, I could FF at my discretion. The writer likes to focus on the superficial details of his experiences and of his relationship with Aura, rather than on the layers of emotion accompanying those experiences.
And I could not get past the narrator's pronunciation of "Aura", the primary character's name, which to me means, among other things, a transparent, luminous glow surrounding a person or situation, as though to extend meaning and substance. Instead, the word was mangled as "OWrah" and could only create dissonance to my ears. OWch!
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