Citing a need "to take a big step back and do most of my grieving in private," Sherman Alexie postpones book tour

Sherman Alexie just posted an open letter to his Facebook page announcing the cancellation of most of the upcoming speaking engagements for his new memoir, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.

Love is a memoir about a tumultuous year in Alexie's life — one in which his mother passed away and Alexie underwent brain surgery to remove a benign tumor. The book was published on a fairly fast schedule, which means Alexie was still deep in the process of grieving and recovering from the events described in the book. The book tour for Love, Alexie writes, was a "retraumatizing" experience.

You should read the whole letter, which is a poetic and confessional document that feels like an addendum to the memoir. But here's the part of the announcement with the information that's relevant to most of his readers:

Because of the short notice, I'll still perform at my gigs in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco this month. But I am cancelling all of my events in August and I will be cancelling many, but not all, of my events for the rest of the year. Dear readers and booksellers and friends and family, I am sorry to disappoint you. I am sorry that I will not be traveling to your cities to tell you my stories in person.

But I will be writing.

Alexie continues with a promise to his readers: "when I am strong enough, I will return to the road. I will return to the memoir."

Writing and reading from a memoir can be cathartic for an author, but it is also an act of emotional labor. For a reader and a performer like Alexie, who throws his whole self into every performance, it must have been a grueling experience to relive the worst and most despairing parts of his awful year over and over again in front of audiences.

Above and beyond all else that he does — a novelist, a filmmaker, a screenwriter, a children's book author — Alexie is a poet. This means that the need to tear out his heart and show it to a room full of strangers is part of his DNA. We're sure he can't wait to get back to it, but we're so grateful that he's taking the time to make sure that he's healthy. We wish Alexie the best and we can't wait to see him when he goes out on the road again.