The New Yorker: To Renew or Not Renew?

Self has been plagued by indecision.  Her subscription expires this year.  She thinks they always publish the same people.  On the other hand, this was where she first read Roberto Bolaño, and Haruki Murakami, and Terese Svoboda.  And Tea Obreht.  And Yoko Ogawa.  But does she really have enough bucks to extend her subscription?  Her funds are running low, she needs to save up for future trips to Bacolod.  She had to pay another vet bill for Gracie today:  $230.

Self decides she’ll put off making a decision (again)

In the meantime, hubby has gone off to see Nic Cage in Drive Angry.  Self did not feel like seeing a movie today.  Instead, she curled up and started reading —  yup, you guessed it;  a back issue of The New Yorker.  This issue was Feb. 7, 2011.  The article that had caught her attention was in Personal History:  the author was Francisco Goldman.

Self has read two novels by Francisco Goldman and loved them both.

There is something gripping about the way this article begins.  The accompanying photographs are of a woman named Aura.  She is attractive.  In both pictures, she is relaxed.  One is dated 2004, the other 2007.

Goldman writes that Aura was “a twenty-seven-year-old from Mexico City, a graduate student in Latin American literature on a Fulbright scholarship at Columbia,” while he was “forty-nine, born in Boston, the son of Guatemalan and Russian immigrants, working as a journalist and writing a novel.”  They had been living together for “almost a year.”

And so self reads on, pulled by the inexorable force of wanting to know what happened.  What happened to the woman named Aura?  The feel of the article is so much like a mystery.  Sentences here and there resonate with awful doom:

My first morning, I went swimming and then to breakfast at a café on the beach, where the waiter told me that the last time he’d gone into the ocean there he’d come out bleeding from both ears.  That night, in my hotel room, I lay in bed listening to the waves, which now sounded to me as if they were grinding bones.

Goldman describes how he proposed to Aura.  They were at a beach again.

I couldn’t go back to Mexico City, where we were spending the summer, without having proposed.  I excused myself from the table and went to our room.  A light rain was falling, one of those warm tropical drizzles which feel like the moisture-saturated air inside a cloud, as soft as silk against your face.

Oh, self would just love to know, know what happens to this couple.  So, although she almost never reads an article straight through to the end, that’s what she finds herself doing now.

Here are Aura and Goldman on their first date.  It turns out she has written a short story.  She shows it to him:

The story was about a young man in an airport who couldn’t remember if he was there because he was arriving or because he was going somewhere.

And then, to further complicate the story, it turns out that Goldman works from home, but Aura has a killer commute, to Columbia from the apartment she shares with Goldman in Brooklyn.  Goldman writes:

…  she regularly got lost.  She’d absent-mindedly miss her stop or take the train in the wrong direction and, engrossed in her book, her thoughts, or her iPod, not notice until she was deep into Brooklyn.  Then she’d call from a pay phone in some subway station I’d never heard of.

He gave her a lot of attention (Of course!  He was in love!) and then would worry:

How am I ever going to get another damn book written with this woman making me walk her to the subway every morning and cajoling me into coming up to Columbia to have lunch with her?

And then:  they are traveling to their favorite beach in Mexico: Mazunte.  There is a last-minute change of plans, they have to spend the night sleeping in separate dorm rooms in a hostel in Oaxaca. But his wife, Goldman remembers, was determined to get to Mazunte, as soon as possible:

Where, as we slept that night, was Aura’s wave in its long journey to Mazunte?


OK, now self simply has to stop.  Back to work, woman!  You know this is the last free time of your weekend!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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