Directed by Dr. Swarnavel Eswaran Pillai, english.msu.edu/people/faculty/swarnavel-eswaran-pillai/
Narrated by Marcia Aldrich, backhandblog.wordpress.com/
Videography by Tim Schafer
Edited by Drew Seymour
"A Hudson Cycle" by Nico Muhly. (c) 2005 St Rose Music Publishing. Courtesy of Bedroom Community
Get the novel - Companion To an Untold Story - by Marcia Aldrich
Winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Creative Non-Fiction: amazon.com/Companion-Association-Programs-Creative-Nonfiction/dp/0820343374
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University of Georgia Press: ugapress.org/index.php/books/companion_to_an_untold_story/
When Marcia Aldrich's friend took his own life at the age of forty-two, they had known each other for many years. As part of his preparations for death, he gave her many of his possessions, concealing his purpose in doing so, and when he committed his long-contemplated act, he was alone in a bare apartment.
In Companion To An Untold, Aldrich struggles with her own failure to act on her suspicions about her friends intentions. She pieces together the rough timeline of his plan to die and the details of its execution. Yet she acknowledges that she cannot provide a complete narrative of why he killed himself. The story- the aftershocks of his suicide and the author's response to what it set in motion.
This book, modeled on the type of reference book called a "companion," attempts to find a form adequate to the way these two-stories crisscross, tangle, knot, and break. Organized alphabetically, the entries introduce, document, and reflect upon how suicide is so resistant to acceptance that it swallows up other aspects of a person's life. Aldrich finds an indirect approach to her friend's death, assembling letters, objects, and memories to archive an un-grievable loss and create a memorial to a life that does not easily make a claim on public attention. Intimate and austere, clear eyed and tender, this innovative work creates a new form in which to experience grief, remembrance, and recognition.
"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 could bring logic to the terrible loss. There is no suspense in the outcome , but the reading the book draws you in so intelligently 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
Marcia Aldrich is a professor of English at Michigan State University and former editor to the Journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Non-fiction. She is the author of the memoir Girl Rearing: Memoir of a Girlhood Gone Astray. Her nonfiction essays have been published in a wide variety of literary reviews and anthologies, including The Best American Essays.
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