Apr 4, 2011

The Long Goodbye by Meghan O'Rourke

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. 


Meghan O’Rourke is the author of Halflife, a collection of  poetry.  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.

Visit the author's website: http://meghanorourke.net/ 
Follow Meghan on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/meghanor

Check out other participants on this blog tour:


Meghan O'Rourke has written a transparent and heart-wrenching memoir about her mother's battle with cancer. She goes through the agonizing details as the family watches her mother die on Christmas Day in the family home.

The Long Goodbye openly looks at an event that none of us want to deal with. Unfortunately, death happens, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Meghan's beliefs are much different than mine, and finding closure and healing of her broken heart was a very difficult journey. She read numerous memoirs dealing with death, healing workbooks, Buddhist texts, and more. At one point she personally found that Shakespeare's Hamlet seemed to help her more than anything else. Even her troubled relationships showed the extent of her sorrow as she searched for peace.

I found this book very hard to read for numerous reasons, but most specifically because of my personal beliefs. My own grief in losing my father late last year is still very fresh, and I really thought I could relate to this memoir, but did not find that connection.

I plan to read this book again, and maybe a different season in my life will give me a different perspective and appreciation.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Long Goodbye through TLC Book Tours, in exchange for my honest review.


  1. Hmm. I'm sorry you weren't able to connect to this memoir the way you anticipated. Grieving is universal yet individual, so that makes sense. Thank you so much for being on the tour; we really appreciate it.

  2. PS Also, I"m so very sorry about the loss of your dad. {{hugs}}

  3. I find it interesting to learn that you did not connect to this. Being fortunate that both my parents are alive and healthy I could not relate to that major theme of course, but I love O'Rourke's writing and found this memoir very powerful so it is interesting to hear from somebody who has dealt with a loss of a parent on what the book was like for them. Very sorry about your father and hopefully the next book is right for you.