The Long Goodbye: A Memoir of Grief

Meghan O'Rourke

The Long Goodbye: A Memoir of Grief

Meghan O'Rourke was thirty-two when her mother died of cancer on Christmas Day, 2008. As a writer, even in the depths of her grief, she was fascinated by what she observed of herself in the aftermath: the rage she felt, not only at what had happened to her mother, but also at the inability of people to acknowledge her pain; her sense that the meaning of her life had changed fundamentally with the loss of a parent; the way that the reassuringly familiar often became somehow completely new and strange. The Long Goodbye interleaves personal recollections with an examination of what it means to grieve in a society which no longer has the rituals — or even, most of the time, the desire — to engage with grief, to understand it, and to let it do both its worst — and its best. 3.6 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
The Long Goodbye: A Memoir of Grief

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Family & Lifestyle
Format Hardback
Pages 320
RRP £14.99
Date of Publication August 2011
ISBN 978-1844086757
Publisher Virago
 

Meghan O'Rourke was thirty-two when her mother died of cancer on Christmas Day, 2008. As a writer, even in the depths of her grief, she was fascinated by what she observed of herself in the aftermath: the rage she felt, not only at what had happened to her mother, but also at the inability of people to acknowledge her pain; her sense that the meaning of her life had changed fundamentally with the loss of a parent; the way that the reassuringly familiar often became somehow completely new and strange. The Long Goodbye interleaves personal recollections with an examination of what it means to grieve in a society which no longer has the rituals — or even, most of the time, the desire — to engage with grief, to understand it, and to let it do both its worst — and its best.

Read an extract from the book | NYTimes.com

Reviews

The Independent on Sunday

Fiona Sturges

Beautifully written and intensely poignant ... She is discomfortingly honest about the uglier aspects of grief — notably the self-absorption, neediness and fury of those caught up in it — and is laudably unconcerned about presenting herself in an unflattering light.

28/08/2011

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The Times

Thomas Lynch

The Long Goodbye is a record of two bereavements, one as old as the species, to wit: a parent dies; the other, oddly postmodern, special to the last couple of generations. The first one is told with grace and candour: “Mainly, I thought one thing: My mother is dead and I want her back. I wanted her back so intensely that I didn’t want to let go.” The writing is sumptuous, detailed, open eyed, intuitive. The newer story, a fresh lament raised within the context of the old one, is the story of a culture and a family bereft of existential narratives and metaphors, gone ritually adrift and left clueless as to what to do when someone dies.

27/08/2011

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The Washington Post

Becky Krystal

In the hands of a less talented writer, this kind of sentiment could lead to mawkishness. O’Rourke, however, capitalizes on her background as a poet, sprinkling her prose with imagery and metaphor to capture sensations ranging from the perfection of a summer evening in Vermont to the embrace of her mother under the flowering branches of a weeping cherry tree. There are also unexpected moments of poignant humor...

29/04/2011

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The New York Times

Gail Caldwell

A cultural critic for Slate, O’Rourke wrote an autobiographical column there in the aftermath of her mother’s death, much of it transformed into this narrative. This immediacy is reflected in the real-time portrayal of her experience, although a surfeit of detail sometimes threatens to muffle the story’s power...

15/04/2011

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The Observer

Rachel Cooke

... deep in her mourning, O'Rourke is petulant, needy, and obsessive. She burns with injustice. This is her book's great strength: it is shot through with a candour and a fierceness which, if you know anything at all of what she is going through, you will find bracing, even cheering. But it is also its weakness. At the risk of sounding like one of those friends who treated her as if she was newly toxic, I found that I could read her memoir only in small scoops.

12/08/2011

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The New York Times

Dwight Garner

The Long Goodbye is a poet’s book, for sure. It’s a sustained howl of pain, an unmediated wallow, and it may be too ripe and intense for some. It sometimes was for me. Ms. O’Rourke grieves as if no one had grieved before her, and in part this illustrates her book’s point. Nothing prepares you — not literature, not anything — for your own scalding emotions.

12/04/2011

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