jeremy's Reviews > Mourning

Mourning by Eduardo Halfon
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really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, translation

and i smiled back and said yes, perhaps, and finished my red wine in silence, thinking that a name, any name, is that transcendent, and arbitrary, and fictitious, and that all of us, eventually, become our own fiction.
continuing the series of gorgeously composed autobiographical vignettes begun in the polish boxer and monastery, eduardo halfon's mourning (duelo) finds the author/narrator traveling to poland, italy, the united states, and his own home country in an ongoing quest to understand his own background and family history. halfon's magnificent prose and abundant storytelling prowess work in tandem to create an irresistible style. the guatemala-born author's journeys (whether temporal or transcontinental) invite us as observer and companion both. halfon is so adept at building suspense and crafting atmospherics, it's as if the reader is waiting to discover secrets about their own personal past.

as with the ghostly, evocative trails of smoke that have adorned each of halfon's english edition covers, mourning is possessed by traces of the ethereal, the mysterious, and the shadowy. whether reckoning with memory's fallibility or reclaiming a past tidily tucked away, halfon's pursuit of veracity and insight yields to the poignancy of his words and perspectives. mourning functions wonderfully as the third volume in halfon's bittersweet, doleful inquest into family folklore, remembrance, and indelible generational anguish.

[highly recommended (4.5 stars)]
maybe this: that what mattered to madame maroszek wasn't whether people wrote their stories in an accounting ledger, or in the margins of a bad french novel, or on invisible music scores, or on letterhead stationery from a city's hotels; maybe what mattered to someone like madame maroszek wasn't where we write our stories but that we write them. tell them. leave testimony. put our whole lives into words. even is we have to do it on loose or stolen pages. or get up from a last supper to go find a last slip of yellow paper. or tell it nameless or with an invented name, written down in an enormous register. or use little pieces of white chalk on a wall black with smoke. or do it in the margins of some other book. or sing it while standing on a trash can. even if we have to kneel down and dig a hole with our hands, secretly, beside a crematorium, until we're sure we can leave our stories in the world, here in the world, buried deep in the world, before we turn to ash.

*rendered from the spanish by best translated book award-winner lisa dillman (herrera, barba, et al.) and daniel hahn (agualusa, peixoto, tavares, saramago, et al.)
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Reading Progress

January, 2018 – Started Reading
January, 2018 – Finished Reading
January 19, 2018 – Shelved
January 19, 2018 – Shelved as: fiction
January 19, 2018 – Shelved as: translation

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message 1: by Drilona (new) - added it

Drilona "thinking that a name, any name, is that transcendent, and arbitrary, and fictitious, and that all of us, eventually, become our own fiction." Lovely xD

jeremy he writes beautifully

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