Acclaimed author Sherman Alexie has canceled the rest of his book tour for You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, a memoir about the death of his mother, Lillian, and their often-fraught relationship.
In a beautifully written Facebook announcement, Alexie details how his mother’s ghost has haunted him through a series of moving encounters since her death, and especially since the book was published in June.
“As I write in the memoir, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time,” Alexie explained on Facebook. “As I also write in the memoir, I don’t believe in magic, but I believe in interpreting coincidence exactly the way you want to. I don’t believe in the afterlife as a reality, but I believe in the afterlife as metaphor. And my mother, from the afterlife, is metaphorically kicking my ass.” Alexie, who says he was frightened of his mother when she was alive, says that he’s now frightened of her ghost as well. In the announcement, he admits that he has inherited the best and the worst of his mother.
Alexie — who is best known for the award-winning YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian — initially decided to write the memoir after his mother’s death in 2015. “I had never written about her before,” the author told EW earlier this year, “not really in fiction or in nonfiction, so I guess her death freed me to write as honestly as I could.” He also found himself unintentionally paying homage to his mother, who sewed quilts, in the style of the book. “The book is a quilt. And I only realized that after reading it in its entirety like the fifth time. I thought, Holy crap, my mom’s haunting me again!”
The tour will continue through its stops in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but all subsequent events have been canceled.
“So here I am — the son and the mother combined — who needs to take a big step back and do most of my grieving in private,” writes Alexie in the announcement as a parting note to his readers. “My memoir is still out there for you to read. And, when I am strong enough, I will return to the road. I will return to the memoir. And I know I will have new stories to tell about my mother and her ghost. I will have more stories to tell about grief. And about forgiveness.” Though he won’t be touring, he promises that he most certainly will be writing.
You can read the entirety of his touching announcement here.