Tuesday, June 7, 2011

{read: memoir? fiction?} Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman

This is written as fiction but it felt more like a memoir to me. After the tragic accidental death of his wife, Aura, Francisco Goldman writes this nonfiction novel about her life and their relationship. If you’re like me, the term “nonfiction novel” seems like a contradiction. Either it’s true (nonfiction) or not true (fiction). Perhaps I got too caught up with trying to label this book. I was struggling with trying to remember that it was fiction and trying to figure out HOW it was fiction -- what was true? what was made up? -- but then I just decided to go with the flow.

Overall, this book left me feeling depressed. Perhaps that shouldn't have been a surprise, given the subject matter, but I was hoping for more. I wanted to like Aura but came away with the impression that she was dominated by her mother and her mother’s ideas of how she should live and what she should be and do. Aura also came across as immature, but maybe it’s just because she was in her early 20s and she was still figuring out who she was. I wanted to like Francisco, but in some ways he also seemed immature, even though he was several years older than Aura.

If you have questions about this book, don’t miss the chance to see Francisco in person. Tour information is here, and he will be at Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon, Wis., tomorrow (Wednesday, June 8).

Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman (Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 2011)
My rating: 3 stars

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