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Companion to an Untold Story (Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction Ser.) Hardcover – September 15, 2012
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Exquisitely sad but painstaking in its clarity, Companion to an Untold Story is an effort to understand a friend’s decision to commit suicide. The author lays out the facts and emotions using the structure of an abecedary, as if the simplicity of a child’s alphabet book could bring logic to the terrible puzzle of loss. There is no suspense in the outcome, but reading the book draws you in so intimately that you, too, feel an urgent need to understand why an intelligent, likeable man would choose, with great deliberateness, to kill himself. This is a difficult subject, written extraordinarily well: a winner.(Susan Orlean author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend)
A wise reflection, both sympathetic and unflinching, on the life and death by suicide of the author’s friend. The book poses questions about suicide and the processes leading up to it and provides answers too . . . when they exist. Perhaps just as importantly, the book leaves unanswerable questions as such, accurately and creatively distilling the experiences of those bereaved by suicide.(Thomas Joiner author of Why People Die by Suicide)
In Companion to an Untold Story, Marcia Aldrich takes on the complex challenge of attempting to understand a friend’s tragic suicide and her own failure to see the signs. This powerful memoir derives its power not just from the author’s unflinching honesty but from the unique form she has chosen to shape this tale. A fascinating, absorbing story.(Dinty W. Moore author of Between Panic and Desire)
Marcia Aldrich takes on a project that seems impossible―restoring the life of a friend who gave away all his possessions and killed himself in an empty apartment―and succeeds brilliantly. She pieces together a portrait of the man and her friendship with him from multiple small definitions, each of them precise, lyrical, and daring. The resulting book is an ultimate companion―a friend, a guide, a moral compass―to the man’s memory and to us all.(Kyoko Mori author of Yarn: Remembering the Way Home)
Aldrich is a skilled and savvy writer. . . . [G]ifted writing and a unique premise. . . . Worth Your Time!(Dan Berkowitz PsychCentral)
Companion to an Untold Story is ultimately a meditation on memory and mystery. Released from event sequence, its approach searching but indirect, like poetry, Aldrich's memoir is compulsively readable and surprisingly moving.(Richard Gilbert NARRATIVE)
By turns haunting, fascinating, funny, and intensely mournful, Aldrich's Companion [to an Untold Story] is a stellar work that goes beyond Joel's story and into the very nature of grief and loss. How do people put the fragments of another's life together when they're gone? Many times, it's an impossible task, but Aldrich shows the worthiness of the attempt.(Elizabeth Millard ForeWord Reviews)
The overall effect of [Companion to an Untold Story] is haunting, and the list of images and entries creates a sense that, like most lasting grief, this story will never end for the narrator. Strange and highly personal details . . . give the reader the feeling of standing with the narrator at the edge of Joel’s death and, like the narrator, trying to put the pieces together.(Sonya Huber Fourth Genre)
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
As to the form of the book, the many lines of story and feeling are presented in alphabetized sections. Some of the sections have cross-references and the reader can follow numerous paths through the sections. As an avid reader of memoir and biography, I think this book is among a cherished handful to take the genre to new levels of literary art.
The format of the book is illuminating. Written as a companion, the book presents the story in fragments, exactly as life happens. As I read the book, each new page surprised me. There is no surprise about the outcome. The surprise is about how one person (Aldrich) deals with this tragedy. Reading her mind as she presents it on the page, she allows the reader to come to their own conclusions. Talking with others who have read the book, it appears that each person who reads it will come to a different conclusion. Aldrich will merely walk you through the process of examination. She spares no one. She will not spare you either.
This haunting memoir is a must-read for those with the courage to confront themselves.