The Long Goodbye by Meghan O'Rourke
A Memoir

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Synopsis

From 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 Meghan O'Rourke

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Meghan O'Rourke is the author of the poetry collections Halflife and Once, and a memoir, The Long Goodbye. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, among them The New Yorker and Slate. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
 
Published April 14, 2011 by Riverhead Books. 320 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Self Help. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Long Goodbye

Publishers Weekly

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In this eloquent, somber memoir about the death of her mother and grieving aftermath, poet and journalist O'Rourke (Halflife) ponders the eternal human question: how do we live with the knowledge that

Feb 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

The New York Times

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“That agile, hopscotchlike skipping she used to do on the sidewalk,” Mr. Goldman writes, “a winged-heel blur, heel-kicked-back heel-kicked-back while also moving forward in an exhilarated burst down the sidewalk as if propelling herself back to her childhood in Copilco.” These winsome de...

Apr 12 2011 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

The New York Times

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In this memoir, the poet Meghan O’Rourke chronicles her mother’s death and its desolate aftermath.

Apr 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

The Guardian

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Death is now at such a distance from everyday life – it is the stuff of hospitals and distant war zones – that O'Rourke and her father are uncertain how to proceed once there is a body in the house.

Aug 12 2011 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

Publishers Weekly

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Over the last months, O'Rourke was bracing herself, "preparing" for her mother's death, by reading everything she could during the dizzying rounds of doctors' and hospital visits, until the family could take their mother home to die in a heavily medicated peace.

Feb 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

NPR

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After poet and critic Meghan O'Rourke's mother died of cancer at 55, she worked through her grief by writing. Her memoir combines the "exquisitely personal" with research of other cultures' mourning rituals that don't ignore suffering.

Apr 14 2011 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

BookPage

Readers who understand and appreciate the lessons detailed in The Long Goodbye will feel renewed after reading it.

Mar 04 2015 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

Slate

Dana's picks: Sidney Lumet and Paul Newman's commentary track on the collector's edition of The Verdict, Sidney Lumet's book Making Movies, and Roald Dahl's story about wine tasting, "Taste" (which is available in the collection Someone Like You).Julia's picks: Sidney Lumet's book Making Movies, ...

Apr 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

Slate

And a survey we conducted on grief for Slate found that, out of nearly 8,000 people, the vast majority reported symptoms that resemble those of complicated grief.

Mar 12 2012 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

Library Journal

I used to ponder this question after my mother’s lingering death, naively assuming that my experiences had been unique, until I heard an interview with Meghan O’Rourke about The Long Goodbye.

Nov 11 2011 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

Bookmarks Magazine

At the end of the day, The Long Goodbye gives voice to the ineffable idea that our dead live beyond our rituals and ‘ceremonious designation.'" Judy Bolton-Fasman Kansas City Star 4 of 5 Stars "When [her mother finally] departs, O'Rourke pleads, ‘I just want somewhere to put my grief,' envis...

Apr 17 2011 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

Book Forum

Near the beginning of The Long Goodbye, her bracing and beautiful memoir of grief, Meghan O'Rourke offers the reader a simple disclaimer: She is one of the lucky ones.

Apr 14 2011 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

Psych Central

I thought of one of the lines from Lewis’s A Grief Observed: “Sorrow…turns out to be not a state but a process,” he wrote.

Jan 30 2013 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

Psych Central

In her book, The Long Goodbye, Meghan O’Rourke explores the fifteen months following her mother’s death.

Jan 30 2013 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

The Paris Review

I don’t want to make all grief sound the same, but there is an intense grief that can shake your sense of identity, and when you are in the depths of it you don’t know when it is ever going to end.

Apr 25 2011 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

The Austinist

While writing this book was not therapy for O’Rourke,—she is an artist, a published poet—she turned to words, as Montaigne once wrote of himself, “to keep from going mad from the contradictions I find among mankind—and to work some of those contradictions out for myself.” Through the writing proc...

Jan 06 2012 | Read Full Review of The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

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