Francisco Goldman hardly needs me to promote his book, Say Her Name, which was featured on the front page of the New York Times Book review earlier this month. But I will because he has been a dear friend for over a decade and the genesis of this book was particularly heart-wrenching. It is a novelized version of his life with chilanga Aura Estrada, to whom he was married for a couple of short years until her untimely death at the age of 30 in an accident at the beach in Oaxaca in 2007.
It is a romantic story of love and death, whose two protagonists are writers. As such it reminded me of some of Roberto Bolaño's work -- the kind of book that might inspire younger readers to want to become writers. It also reminded me of Bolaño in the sense of alchemy. When a book doesn’t work it is often easy to understand where and how the writer screwed up. But when a book works, it is a lot harder to determine the chemical compounds or list of ingredients that brought it to the finish line. In the end, there is something undefinable – something magical – about a classic.
For the record, Goldman is to blame for giving me the idea to write First Stop in the New World. For a long time, he and Aura were among the few people who even knew I was working on it, and they always made me feel like I was the only one in the world who could accomplish it. (For this and many other reasons, I dedicated it to him and to her memory.)
Say Her Name is getting great reviews all over the place. If you are in the U.S., Francisco is also probably appearing at a bookstore near you in the near future. Here is a link to his publisher's web site, where you can find his touring schedule.