This Is How You Say Goodbye

A Daughter's Memoir

Victoria Loustalot

St. Martin's Press

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A razor-sharp memoir in which a young woman travels to Cambodia, Stockholm, and Paris to overcome the legacy of her difficult and charismatic father

When Victoria Loustalot was eight years old her father swept her up in a fantasy: a trip around the world. It was a grandiose plan and she had fallen for it. But it had never been so much as a possibility. Victoria’s father was sick. He was HIV positive and soon to fall prey to AIDS. Three years later he would be gone.

When Victoria realized that the grand trip with her father wasn’t going to happen, she was devastated. Her mother assumed she’d get over it, that eventually it would become just a shrug. But it didn’t. In the years to come, Victoria wondered what it would have been like to have been alone with her dad all those months, to see him outside of his sickness, beyond anything related to their family or their life. To have been with him in a new context. That’s what she wanted. And that’s what she did.

Some fifteen years after that initial promise, Victoria went to Stockholm, to Angkor Wat, and to Paris. She went to the places they were meant to see together, and she went to make peace with her father, too. Because while he’d always be forty-four, she’d gone on accumulating birthdays. Every year, her understanding of him continued to evolve and their relationship was still alive. Victoria Loustalot felt trapped beneath all of the unanswered questions he left behind. She needed to be set free. She needed to say goodbye.

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Book Excerpts

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1
 

It took me a long time to learn how to smile. I was never a child who could light up on command, who could give the photographer that open-mouthed beam, the kid face scrunched up like an accordion. That kind of giddy joy didn’t interest me. I wanted to smile like an adult—understated and careful, like I knew what was going on and had decided to smile anyway.
So I practiced. I’d stand in front of the mirror trying on smiles like hats. The wide, teeth-bared grin that made my cheeks hurt. The tight-lipped Mona Lisa sliver.

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Reviews

Praise for This Is How You Say Goodbye

“[C]ompelling reading. An intimate portrait of a bittersweet father-daughter relationship.” --Kirkus

“Eloquent . . . gently probing . . . delineates a young woman’s arduous passage to self-realization.”
Publishers Weekly

“In this moving memoir, her first book, Loustalot alternates reminiscences of her dad and highlights of her trip, including Stockholm, Angkor Wat, and Paris. She paints a portrait of a man stoic in the face of quiet suffering. By turns sweet . . . and heart-wrenching . . . Loustalot writes with courage and candor about bidding her beloved father a final farewell.” –Booklist

"Moves between past and present and is told in frank, detailed narrative marked by irony, heartache and some humor." –Sacramento Bee

"Victoria Loustalot's memoir will resonate with anyone who has ever tried to resolve the complexities of an enigmatic parent, or plumb what lies at the heart of the filial bond. Her uncommon intelligence, wit, and compassion shine through in this beautifully realized memoir. Loustalot is a beguiling writer and This Is How You Say Goodbye a smashing debut." —Alexandra Styron, author of Reading my Father

"In lyrical, thoughtful, often humorous prose, Victoria Loustalot searches for her father, who came out as gay when Victoria was only seven and died from AIDS too young. Her search takes her to many continents and lovers, all as she attempts to understand her own relationship to intimacy. What Loustalot has written is a love story – a moving, aching love story to the father she never knew. It will resonate for all who have loved and lost, and who wish to heal." —Kerry Cohen, author of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity

“THIS IS HOW YOU SAY GOODBYE is a remarkable accomplishment. A riveting narrative that lays bare how important it is to come to terms with the past, this honest and heartrending memoir is for everybody who has ever tried to find his or her place in their family-and in the world.”
Julie Klam, author of You Had Me at Woof and Friendkeeping


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About the Author

Victoria Loustalot

VICTORIA LOUSTALOT's last name is pronounced LOO * STA * LOW. For a longer version of her bio, please read this book.

Victoria Loustalot

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Available Formats and Book Details

This Is How You Say Goodbye
A Daughter's Memoir
Victoria Loustalot

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
September 2013
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781250038661
ISBN10: 1250038669
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 240 pages
$11.99

Hardcover

Hardcover
St. Martin's Press
September 2013
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781250005205
ISBN10: 1250005205
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 240 pages
$24.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
9/23/2014
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781250056504
ISBN10: 1250056500
5 1/16 x 7 15/16 inches, 240 pages
$16.99
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