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Hear I Go: A Tale of Life, Death, Bar-B-Que & the Tango

In her debut work — “Hear I Go” — Maureen Borden (Malka) introduces her real-life beloved Michael Metz (Micky), a renowned talk-show host in Omaha, Nebraska, who dies of a heart attack before she can get to the hospital. Beset by guilt and grief, the author creates a scenario where she can be with the dying in their final moments. The results are bittersweet, wry and at times hilarious. Believing that hearing is the last sense to leave the body, a new hospice — The Gate — advertises for readers. Malka is intrigued. Not all goes as planned, however. She does not expect to sing “Drop kick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life” — she is Jewish — or dance the tango with an octoroon — or witness how an alabaster angel can soothe a forehead. The latter is a trick of Heddy Carson, The Gate’s unconventional hospice nurse. Heddy’s passion for life, even as it’s ebbing, is an irony not lost on Malka, who meets three patients and their families. These interactions, as well as Heddy’s memorable insights, challenge Malka’s long-held notions of death, heaven and what it means to be fully alive. When she isn’t at the hospice, Malka edits college theses, much to the dismay of her neighbor, Lily, an unabashed romantic with a quirky sense of honesty. Lily wants Malka to socialize more, to find life sexy-sexy again. Lily’s boss, Tomas, who owns a pawn shop and is a devotee of Moroccan cuisine, wants Malka to eat more than tofu. The shop provides a refuge when the world presses in. The months pass, and while Malka is never completely certain she has made a good death for her patients, she surrenders wholeheartedly to being in the moment. Slowly, her confidence returns until the unimaginable happens, and she must decide whether to retreat or soar. “Maureen Borden’s lyrical writing moves astutely through grief, love, and death with humor and grace. At a certain point, reading the book begins to feel like mining for gold, as the reader picks up one-liners that alternate between heartbreakingly wise and laugh-out-loud funny.” -Julie Christensen – Searching for Meredith Love

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