'Ever since his wife died, the novelist Francisco Goldman hasn’t been had the heart to tell their local fishmonger in Brooklyn. He dreads the inevitable questions: where’s Aura? How’s Aura? He has been unable to return to the restaurant they used to frequent, where she was adored by all the Mexican waiters, who used to crowd around her table. “I know they’ve seen me walk by,” he says. “They must think: Oh she left him.” At their local Laundromat, where the absence of female clothes in the wash has been noted, he outright lies. “I would say she’s in Mexico or whatever,” he says. “You don’t want to say she’s dead. You don’t want to have that conversation in a Laundromat.”
It is a warm summer’s day – not too humid for New York— and we are sitting outside Café Tabac, just around the corner from where Goldman lives in Brooklyn. Of Guatemalan-American descent, he goes by the name of “Frank” or “Paco” to his friends. A boyish 57-year-old with a soft, slightly worried manner, Goldman, orders a salmon burger “because it’s salmon, and not really a burger,” and then laughs at his own attempts to out-maneuvre the Calorie God.Recently, he read Lydia Davis translation of Swann’s Way and found a sentence that stopped him short: “One thing love and death have in common, more than those vague resemblances people are always talking about, is that they make us question more deeply, for fear that its reality will slip away from us, the mystery of personality.”
He quotes it perfectly from memory. “That’s beautiful. Because the fundamental question in death is: who was that person? Where did that person go? Who was that? And in love it is the same: why does this one person out of all the millions on the planet suddenly to merge with me so I effectively want to be her all the time? Why does this one person so enthrall me? What is it? What was that? Who was that? That’s sort of a twin dance between death and life, the way you pursue it that way.”
“I made something. Out of this disaster, I made something. It might be a very puny thing. It’s just a book. But at least its a book that carries the spark of life. It carries the spark of Aura. She’s there. It’s her.”'