Goodbye without Leaving by Laurie Colwin

The summer 2021 issue of my favorite literature quarterly – Slightly Foxed – is full of more treasures and guides to great reading. One essay is on the American author, Laurie Colwin. She wrote five novels and some collections of essays, and wrote a food column in Gourmet magazine. She has two collections about cooking – Home Cooking and More Home Cooking – which are also partly memoirs.

When I read the essay in Slightly Foxed I was thinking that I would love to read Laurie Colwin, and I had a vague memory of a volume on my own shelves. So I went there and indeed found Goodbye without Leaving. I don’t know when and why I bought it many years (decades?) ago. It was published in 1990. I probably saw it in a bookstore and thought it would be a good read. (I do that all the time, so there are more treasures to be mined on my shelves!) And so I read it and it is delightful.

The protagonist, Geraldine Coleshares, is a graduate student who grew up in a pretty normal New York middle class neighborhood. She is devoted to rock and roll and her moment comes when she gets to sing back-up for the Shakettes. The book is funny, poignant and full of insight. As you read Gerladine’s story there are lots of places where she’s trying to decide something about the next part of her life. I found myself almost saying out loud, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it!” And, it won’t be a spoiler if I tell you all that she doesn’t!

I heartily recommend Goodbye without Leaving and I look forward to reading more of Laurie Colwin. She sadly died of a heart attack in 1992 and age 48, but we are fortunate to have her writing.

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