The Long Goodbye: A Memoir (Paperback)
"Anguished, beautifully written... The Long Goodbye is an elegiac depiction of drama as old as life." -- The New York Times Book Review
From the author of The Invisible Kingdom, one of America's foremost young literary voices, a transcendent portrait of the unbearable anguish of grief and the enduring power of familial love.
What does it mean to mourn today, in a culture that has largely set aside rituals that acknowledge grief? After her mother died of cancer at the age of fifty-five, Meghan O'Rourke found that nothing had prepared her for the intensity of her sorrow. In the first anguished days, she began to create a record of her interior life as a mourner, trying to capture the paradox of grief-its monumental agony and microscopic intimacies-an endeavor that ultimately bloomed into a profound look at how caring for her mother during her illness changed and strengthened their bond.
O'Rourke's story is one of a life gone off the rails, of how watching her mother's illness-and separating from her husband-left her fundamentally altered. But it is also one of resilience, as she observes her family persevere even in the face of immeasurable loss.
With lyricism and unswerving candor, The Long Goodbye conveys the fleeting moments of joy that make up a life, and the way memory can lead us out of the jagged darkness of loss. Effortlessly blending research and reflection, the personal and the universal, it is not only an exceptional memoir, but a necessary one.
About the Author
Meghan O’Rourke is the author of the poetry collections Once and Halflife. She is a cultural critic for Slate, and her essays and poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
"Piercingly candid." --Vogue
"An intelligent, heart-laden narrative... O'Rourke has written a beautiful elegy. She celebrates her mother and movingly meditates on the knotty mystery of grief." --The Boston Globe
"[The Long Goodbye] evokes the universalities of love and pain. We feel our own grief, past and potential, as O'Rourke grapples with hers... [She] capitalizes on her background as a poet, sprinkling her prose with imagery and metaphor." --The Washington Post
"A tour de force et tristesse... [O'Rourke's] mother emerges less as a rough sketch and more as a completed portrait, a lively and memorable person." --Lorrie Moore, The New York Review of Books
"Penetrating... There is a bracing frankness to O'Rourke's reminiscences... The weightiness of O'Rourke's subject matter is leavened by her insight and wry humor. An elegant and erudite treatment of grief, O'Rourke reaches out to the beraeved and unbereaved alike." --San Francisco Chronicle
"An achingly moving memoir... Barbara Kelly O'Rourke used to bid her daughter good night with the line, 'I love you to deaht.' With this unusually intelligent and emotional book, her daughter makes clear that we can, in fact, love beyond it." --O, The Oprah Magazine
"[The Long Goodbye is] a secular ceremony, one that memorializes the mother's best aspects, her daughter's effort to be present throughout her decline, and the terrible ,common burden of being the person who continues to live." --Los Angeles Times
"With her ear for double entendres and eye for aesthetic lapses, O'Rourke is able to narrate her months of mourning with wry wit and charming perception... It shows not only how to heal but also how to help." --NPR.org
"A beautiful memoir about a daughter's love for her mother." --The Paris Review
"Meghan O'Rourke, a celebrated poet and critic, writes prose as if she was born to it first. Her memoir The Long Goodbye is emotionally acute, strikingly empathetic, thorough and unstinting intellectually, and of course elegantly wrought. But it's above all a useful book, for life-the good bits and the sad ones, too."
"Meghan O'Rourke has written a beautiful memoir about her loss of a truly irreplaceable mother-yes, it is sad, it is in fact heartrending, but it is many things more: courageous, inspiring, wonderfully intelligent and informed, and an intimate portrait of an American family as well."
-Joyce Carol Oates
"Meghan O'Rourke is an extraordinary writer, and she offers precious gifts to readers in this powerful memoir. There is the gift of entering her family, with its vibrant characters and culture. There is the gift of her profound insights into the experience of grief, its grip and the diverse ways we struggle to reenter a world where joy is felt. But most of all, there is her gift of showing us how love prevails after even the most devastating loss."
-Jerome Groopman, M.D., Recanati Professor, Harvard Medical School, and author of The Anatomy of Hope and How Doctors Think