purchase the book:


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Read an excerpt from
The Long Goodbye in the 2/28/11
issue of The New Yorker.

About The Long Goodbye
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 convey 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.


With lyricism and unswerving candor, The Long Goodbye captures 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.


Praise for The Long Goodbye

“An achingly moving memoir.”

—Sara Nelson, O, The Oprah Magazine


“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


“Painfully poignant & gorgeously written.”

—Karen Holt, NPR’s The Takeaway


“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, author of Anatomy of Hope
and How Doctors Think


“In her blazingly honest, relentlessly brave memoir Meghan O’Rourke takes on the strange, impossible time after a parent’s death. I couldn’t recommend this elegant and fearless book more highly to anyone who has, or has had, a mother.”

—Katie Roiphe, author of Uncommon Arrangements


“Provides a kind of comfort that only a kindred spirit (who can write fantastically well) can. Every tear-stained page is not a road map, but rather a lovely gift from a fellow traveler.”

Booklist, Starred review


“O’Rourke’s candor allows her work to far transcend the imitators…Equally successful is O’Rourke’s ability to navigate beyond the realm of sentimentality… An unflinching, cathartic memoir.”

Kirkus, Starred review


“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 we will one day die?”

Publishers Weekly, Starred review