Magazine article World Literature Today

The Old Man's Love Story

Magazine article World Literature Today

The Old Man's Love Story

Article excerpt

Fiction Rudolfo Anaya. The Old Man's Love Story. Norman. University of Oklahoma Press. 2013. isbn 9780806143576

Love, grief, and memory form the thematic triad in Rudolfo Anaya's The Old Man's Love Story, a novel that speaks to our shared humanity and to what shapes our lives in their truest dimensions. Anaya's narrative craftappeared fully developed in Bless Me, Última (1972), his founding novel that closes with Antonio's grief over Última's looming death but also with a consoling revelation: spirits can be invoked in moments of sorrow ("if despair enters your heart, look for me in the evenings").

The Old Man's Love Story is a dignified portrayal of the novel's main character, who is in the process of facing despair and loneliness: his wife and soul mate is now an angel gone homeward. The writer's resolve to transform the personal experience of mourning into an art form is an evident attempt to reach the reader's heart and imagination. The dramatic impact, however, transcends sorrow and desolation; comedy enters in unexpected moments, producing a range of emotions that offer the possibility of reading the novel as cathartic and thus as a personally significant experience. In Anaya's words (and with the poetry of Nezahualcóyotl in mind): "That's all that lasts, beauty of flowers and songs." At one point in the novel the old man's wife appears and gently whispers: "I am here as long as you remember me." Utter the word "love," the old man tells himself, and the image of the beloved "jumps up. …

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