In 2009, Francisco Goldman's wife died of a freak accident at a Mexican beach. Having difficulty accepting his wife Aura's loss, he started to write a fictional story of a character he called, Francisco Goldman. The character Francisco Goldman also loses his wife, Aura, to a freak beach accident on the coast of Mexico. That much we know.
By putting all of this in a fictional context, author Goldman is allowed to explore his feelings both good and bad and to explore the feelings of his wife in the character that he has created. The book does not read like a memoir--it really does read like fiction. And it is helped by it as the author can condense time in the story and allow us to wonder if the other characters are real or compilations. We don't know if the real Aura said that to her Mother. But the fictional one does and can. The story moves along as you jump between times before they met, through their courtship and even after her death.
I don't know if a memoir could have been as profound as what we read as fiction. The author is able to explore relationships and feelings more deeply than if he was having to stick to the facts or the truth as he knew it. Goldman has written both nonfiction and fiction, so he does know the difference. The choice to present his story as fiction makes it a more compelling albeit very sad read.
The Possibilities, by Kaui Hart Hemmings, provides an intimate look at grief and the journey one must take to return to life after a tragedy. Sarah lost her 22-year-old son, Cully, in a tragic accident three months ago. She is attempting a return to work as a peppy television host on a program that showcases tourist spots in Breckenridge, Colorado, but just can’t seem to muster the resolve to paste on a fake smile. Sarah’s pain is palpable. In response to another mother who has suffered a similar loss Sarah narrates “While I seek common experiences, at the same time I hate it, how it weakens my own pain, which I cherish.”
She alternates between sorrow and anger which she takes out on her father and best friend. While the book has dark themes, it is interspersed with light-hearted moments especially with Sarah’s father, who has a QVC addiction, and her best friend Suzanne, who is in the midst of a divorce and as Sarah states“has enviable problems”. In the middle of this struggle, a young woman enters their lives and helps Sarah to heal and to see the possibility of life after the end of pain.
Hemmings is the author of the best-selling novel and Oscar winning movie, The Descendants. Like The Descendants, The Possibilities examines the secrets people keep and the aftermath of loss. Her writing is incredibly descriptive, not just of the emotions of the characters but of the setting. She describes in beautiful detail the tourist town of Breckenridge: the snow on the mountains, the tourists, the valets at the hotel, and the feel of the sun. The Possibilities shows that even in heartbreak there is still beauty.
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