Good grief

by | Apr 15, 2011 | Blog, Memoir | 0 comments

Though I was among those who thought I had said in public all I want to say about grief, a spate of new publications on the subject has challenged my silence. All I’m doing in this post is listing the three books I want to inhale immediately, and why.

(I’m trying to draft new chapters of my own right now and between that and apartment-hunting and the endless hustle for freelance writing jobs, this blog has been sorely neglected. I know, “it’s all about platform” goes the refrain from editors and agents…a platform being some actual/virtual ground such as a blog from which you build your public profile and allegedly increase your chances of a book being sold, and even more allegedly of said published book being bought. But honestly, unless you have some credibility OR a novelty concept – the bestselling blank book on what men think about other than sex, or the I-can-something-cheeseburger crowd, you – I mean I – must be serious about getting the writing work done in the first place.)

One writer of a new book about grief, Megan O’Rourke, has credibility to burn. A New York Times reviewer, Paris Review poetry editor and Slate cultural critic, O’Rourke already has one poetry volume under her belt and a second one due later this year. In The Long Goodbye, she tracks her mother’s death from cancer and her own grief. I am yet to see a bad review of this book, so it’s at the top of my must-read list.

Next is a toss-up between a memoir parading as a novel – Francisco Goldman’s Say Her Name – and a memoir by a prolific novelist – Joyce Carol Oates’s A Widow’s Story. Both are written by bereaved spouses. In Goldman’s case, he lost his much younger wife Aurora, in a sudden accident at the beach not long into their marriage. Oates’s book is about her 40-year marriage and its sudden end, though in Janet Maslin’s review she questioned some key information missing from the author’s account – the most notable being that 11 months after her first husband’s death Oates was engaged to her second.

“Omissions are not accidents”, wrote the poet Marianne Moore.

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