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Godspeed: A Memoir

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“Raw and poetic…lean and ferocious.” —The New York Times “I swim for every chance to get wasted—after every meet, every weekend, every travel trip. This is what I look forward to and what I tell no one: the burn of it down my throat, to my soul curled up in my lungs, the sharpest pain all over it—it seizes and stretches, becoming alive again, and is the only thing that make “Raw and poetic…lean and ferocious.” —The New York Times “I swim for every chance to get wasted—after every meet, every weekend, every travel trip. This is what I look forward to and what I tell no one: the burn of it down my throat, to my soul curled up in my lungs, the sharpest pain all over it—it seizes and stretches, becoming alive again, and is the only thing that makes sense.” At fifteen, Casey Legler is already one of the fastest swimmers in the world. She is also an alcoholic, isolated from her family, and incapable of forming lasting connections with those around her. Driven to compete at the highest levels, sent far away from home to train with the best coaches and teams, she finds herself increasingly alone and alienated, living a life of cheap hotels and chlorine-worn skin, anonymous sexual encounters and escalating drug use. Even at what should be a moment of triumph—competing at age sixteen in the 1996 Olympics—she is an outsider looking in, procuring drugs for Olympians she hardly knows, and losing her race after setting a new world record in the qualifying heats. After submitting to years of numbing training in France and the United States, Casey can see no way out of the sinister loneliness that has swelled and festered inside her. Yet wondrously, when it is almost too late, she discovers a small light within herself, and senses a point of calm within the whirlwind of her life. In searing, evocative, visceral prose, Casey gives language to loneliness in this startling story of survival, defiance, and of the embers that still burn when everything else in us goes dark.


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“Raw and poetic…lean and ferocious.” —The New York Times “I swim for every chance to get wasted—after every meet, every weekend, every travel trip. This is what I look forward to and what I tell no one: the burn of it down my throat, to my soul curled up in my lungs, the sharpest pain all over it—it seizes and stretches, becoming alive again, and is the only thing that make “Raw and poetic…lean and ferocious.” —The New York Times “I swim for every chance to get wasted—after every meet, every weekend, every travel trip. This is what I look forward to and what I tell no one: the burn of it down my throat, to my soul curled up in my lungs, the sharpest pain all over it—it seizes and stretches, becoming alive again, and is the only thing that makes sense.” At fifteen, Casey Legler is already one of the fastest swimmers in the world. She is also an alcoholic, isolated from her family, and incapable of forming lasting connections with those around her. Driven to compete at the highest levels, sent far away from home to train with the best coaches and teams, she finds herself increasingly alone and alienated, living a life of cheap hotels and chlorine-worn skin, anonymous sexual encounters and escalating drug use. Even at what should be a moment of triumph—competing at age sixteen in the 1996 Olympics—she is an outsider looking in, procuring drugs for Olympians she hardly knows, and losing her race after setting a new world record in the qualifying heats. After submitting to years of numbing training in France and the United States, Casey can see no way out of the sinister loneliness that has swelled and festered inside her. Yet wondrously, when it is almost too late, she discovers a small light within herself, and senses a point of calm within the whirlwind of her life. In searing, evocative, visceral prose, Casey gives language to loneliness in this startling story of survival, defiance, and of the embers that still burn when everything else in us goes dark.

30 review for Godspeed: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    I was waiting to read this book from the moment it was announced and I am not disappointed. That was definitely the best birthday gift from me for me I have ever made. The language and the style was deeply moving, very picturesque, sad, cloudy and poem-like at many parts. There were also lines where it was more informal which has made the text more realistic. I have never even learnt how to swim in my life and it was never a goal for me. I used to be scared of going into the water, of chlorine a I was waiting to read this book from the moment it was announced and I am not disappointed. That was definitely the best birthday gift from me for me I have ever made. The language and the style was deeply moving, very picturesque, sad, cloudy and poem-like at many parts. There were also lines where it was more informal which has made the text more realistic. I have never even learnt how to swim in my life and it was never a goal for me. I used to be scared of going into the water, of chlorine and straightening my hands under the water without touching the ground when I was a kid. Nevertheless, the story felt closer to me than I expected. Even though this book made me see the author in a different way I am still certain that Casey Legler is one of my most important inspirations and that I am glad I wrote a part about her in my bachelor thesis. I am waiting for the continuation.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Doyle

    This is an astonishing book. It's a memoir like On the Road is a memoir. Or Close to the Knives. Which is to say this is LITERATURE. Legler breaks sentences wide open — it's intensely poetic. Closest thing to it, in terms of sports literature, is "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" — but where that work is claustrophobic, this work is psychedelic and intensely sensual. It's much much more than an athlete's memoir  — it is a document of an experience with the world, with being a body in This is an astonishing book. It's a memoir like On the Road is a memoir. Or Close to the Knives. Which is to say this is LITERATURE. Legler breaks sentences wide open — it's intensely poetic. Closest thing to it, in terms of sports literature, is "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" — but where that work is claustrophobic, this work is psychedelic and intensely sensual. It's much much more than an athlete's memoir  — it is a document of an experience with the world, with being a body in motion, a being desiring body, with liminal states.

  3. 5 out of 5

    TiSh

    Not at all what I was expecting. Tireless and heartbreaking. Style and tone are vastly different from how Casey comes across in interviews.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Adina

    I devoured this book and look forward to reading it again. It is both a heart breaking and uplifting memoir. Knowing and accepting yourself is difficult. No matter who you are. I am thankful that Casey shared her story and I hope she shares more in the future. Thank you, Casey Legler.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Avery Sandborn

    Won this book from a giveaway with Atria. Started reading it because I thought it’d be a short read between book club books (160 pages). Ended up taking ten days to read... All over the place. Feel like I just read a 160 page poem about nothing I can relate to.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stacie

    Competently written memoir heavy on the drugs and sex, light on swimming in comparison.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marykay Pogar

    I tried to like it, but I had no idea what she was trying to say for half the book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Donita

    I was interested in her story. Sadly, I was way out of her target audience.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Adriana Kincaid

    I really wanted to like this book because Casey’s story seems so interesting. Unfortunately, the writing is terrible. Couldn’t even finish it

  10. 4 out of 5

    Desiree Fernandez

    Legler is painting with words— her writer’s hand is so unique and beautiful. This book is both tragic and stunning— it’s one of those books that you’ll want to read from cover to cover immediately. I’m anxiously awaiting the next thing she writes!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ldub

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liane

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Ramos

  16. 4 out of 5

    Angelina

  17. 4 out of 5

    Archit Shervi

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

  19. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    What did I just read? Why is it over? What? Have I told you lately that I wish I was tall enough to be a menswear model? Taller than the moon, and fluently French-speaking.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  21. 5 out of 5

    Josie Barlow

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cassie Weigle

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lori Calhoun

  24. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Feldman

  25. 4 out of 5

    Megan Schenher

  26. 5 out of 5

    BELLETRIST

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gillian Carleton

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ali Schofield

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Tidey

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeni

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