A survivor, searching for soul

 

The Old Man’s Love Story
Rudolfo Anaya
176 pages, hardcover: $19.95.
University of Oklahoma Press, 2013.

"Letting go of one's soul mate is not easy." So writes award-winning author and retired University of New Mexico professor Rudolfo Anaya in his latest novel, The Old Man's Love Story. Inspired by the death of his beloved wife, Patricia, in 2010, the book is so poignant, so powerful in its intimate exploration of grief, that readers may find themselves pausing after each chapter to sit quietly with their own experience of loss.

They may also find themselves chuckling at the narrator's wry observations on the persistence of lust, and at his foil – Ernesto – an oversexed jock who struts about in a Speedo at the pool where the elderly narrator does aerobics "in the water, returning to my fish nature."

The best books on grief – whether fiction or nonfiction – examine death and the concerns of the survivors with uncompromising candor. Anaya's "old man" can't stop asking questions after his wife dies. "Could one live as pure spirit?" he wonders. "Is she lost? Or am I the lost one?" Perhaps most heart-wrenchingly, he asks the unanswerable: "Why?"

But the author reaches beyond the story of an old man losing his soul mate. Within this lyrical volume, there's a romantic love story with a beginning ("She Anglo and he a nuevo mexicano. Will the marriage last, family wondered") and a middle ("Both taught school, so summers were for traveling"), as well as the inevitable end. Set against the landscapes of Mexico and New Mexico, the book delves into Chicano history, Mexican folktales, philosophical discourse on homelessness, hedge funds, the war in Afghanistan. "The old man bowed his head and prayed," Anaya writes. "He lived in reality, and reality smelled really bad."

The Old Man's Love Story offers an alternative to grief and nihilism, though. By its conclusion, a second romance emerges in the narrator's unquenchable passion for life. Salvation comes not in the form of an awkward rendezvous with a new "lady friend," but in his realization that he is still very much alive, nourished by both current events and his joyful memories.

High Country News Classifieds
  • ELLIE SAYS IT'S SAFE! A GUIDE DOG'S JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
    by Don Hagedorn. A story of how lives of the visually impaired are improved through the love and courage of guide dogs. Available on Amazon.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
    All positions available: Sales Representative, Accountant and Administrative Assistant. As part of our expansion program, our University is looking for part time work from home...
  • COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Communications Associate Director Location: Flexible within the Western U.S., Durango, CO preferred Position reports to: Senior Communications Director The Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF)...
  • HISTORIC HOTEL & CAFE
    For Sale, 600k, Centennial Wyoming, 6 suites plus 2 bed, 2 bath apartment. www.themountainviewhotel.com Make this your home or buy a turn key hotel [email protected]
  • MAJOR GIFTS OFFICER
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Major Gifts Officer to join our...
  • RUBY, ARIZONA CARETAKER
    S. Az ghost town seeking full-time caretaker. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    Basic Summary: The Vice President for Landscape Conservation is based in the Washington, D.C., headquarters and oversees Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing...
  • BRISTOL BAY PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Seeking a program director responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the Alaska Chapter's priority strategy for conservation in the Bristol Bay region of...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The National Bighorn Sheep Center is looking for an Executive Director to take us forward into the new decade with continued strong leadership and vision:...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Powder Basin Watershed Council, based in Baker City, Oregon, seeks a new Executive Director with a passion for rural communities, water, and working lands....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Powder River Basin Resource Council, a progressive non-profit conservation organization based in Sheridan, Wyoming, seeks an Executive Director, preferably with grassroots organizing experience, excellent communication...
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, based in Ely, Nevada is looking for a new executive director to replace the long-time executive director who is retiring at...
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • LOG HOME IN THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Beautiful hand built log home in the heart of the Gila Wilderness on five acres. Please email for PDF of pictures and a full description.
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.