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The Long Goodbye: A Memoir | [Meghan O'Rourke]

The Long Goodbye: A Memoir

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 55, 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 - an endeavor that ultimately bloomed into a profound look at how caring for her mother during her illness changed and strengthened their bond.
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Publisher's Summary

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 55, 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.

©2011 Meghan O'Rourke (P)2011 Penguin

What the Critics Say

"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." (Richard Ford)

"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)

What Members Say

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    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 04-18-11
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 04-18-11 Member Since 2003

    glam

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    "Really great. Loved it."

    O'Rourke writes with meticulous detail and creates a vivid emotional presence in this book. It could easily have been longer; every paragraph seemed worthy of expansion, and the book's not so much about loss, or about remembering the past, as it is about living in each moment and savoring the gifts contained in the present.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 07-10-12
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 07-10-12 Member Since 2005

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beautiful memoir"

    This was a beautifully written book about the author's journey though living with and then coming to terms with her mother's illness and subsequent death. It was not depressing to me, rather, it was eloquent and honest and gave insight into the roller coaster ride a family goes through when a loved one gets terminal cancer. Having gone through cancer with my child I could relate to so much of what she described. We thankfully had a positive outcome, but the experience changed us forever. We can choose to be changed for the better. The author uses this forum to deal with and make sense of her experience and does it in a way most of us could not articulate.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Borger, TX, United States 08-03-12
    Stephanie Borger, TX, United States 08-03-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Author Narration is Sometimes NOT a Good Idea..."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    The book, yes -- the audiobook, no. Meghan O'Rourke's narration detracts from her own writing.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Definitely needed a professional reader.


    Did The Long Goodbye inspire you to do anything?

    It made me consider looking into getting back to work as a Voice Artist.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Marijane Milton, DE, United States 07-12-12
    Marijane Milton, DE, United States 07-12-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Why do authors insist on narrating?"

    Very good story. I just happened to listen to this after Wild, both about women losing their mother at a young age. As an aside, both lost their marriages which escapes me. The mother daughter relationship is so complicated and I thought this book captured this well and I wish I could have been so eloquent with my feelings. Would have been better with another narrator.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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