Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Legs Get Led Astray” as Want to Read:
Legs Get Led Astray
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Legs Get Led Astray

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  576 ratings  ·  86 reviews
LEGS GET LED ASTRAY is a provocative collection of essays that vividly rockets the reader through one young woman's life. Chloe Caldwell beautifully and bluntly escorts you through her childhood dreams, her first loves, her most unguarded sexual exploits, bookstore crushes, babysitting jobs, heartbroken wanderlust, and the suicide of a lost lover. Caldwell's writing remark ...more
Paperback, 164 pages
Published April 3rd 2011 by Future Tense Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Legs Get Led Astray, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Legs Get Led Astray

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  576 ratings  ·  86 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jun 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
I am so fucking bored of reading essays about being young and confused, sexually virile, and stoned in a big city. I hate Girls for this, as well as for the total narcissism of every character, and I disliked this essay collection for the same reasons. As a rule, I kinda find these kinds of people in real life boring and self-absorbed and pretentious. Sure, they're fucked up, but fucked up isn't automatically interesting, and it really bothers me that people tend to assume it is. Writing, mechan ...more
Robb Todd
Fuck "Girls" and fuck "Sex and the City." Read this book if you care at all what it's like to be young and horny and sad and free and drug-induced and happy (and broke) in the greatest city in the world. More importantly, read these essays if you care to know what it is like to want to devour your life and explore its fullness simply by paying attention.

I know some people will get hung up on the sex and substance abuse, but there is much more going on here, least of which is the courage to writ
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
I would give this 2.5 stars. I had really high hopes for this book, considering it got blurbs from Cheryl Strayed and Lidia Yuknavitch. But it was a collection of essays about an immature 20-something's time in NY and her escapades abroad and with random bad boys. There was no self-reflection or analysis, and the whole thing felt very superficial. Caldwell does not reveal much of herself in these writings - sure, she gives us details about her masturbation habits and affinity for blowjobs, but w ...more
This is from the introduction that I gave Chloe at her book release party in Portland recently...

Chloe Caldwell came to me nearly two years ago (in March of 2010). She asked if I was taking submissions and said she felt a specific connection to the work that Future Tense does. In that first email, she wrote, “Every word I write is non-fiction. I get off, literally at seeing the scary humiliating tragically beautiful truth on paper.”
I thought that was pretty charming.
But I was backed up with pro
A.M. O'Malley
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it
I saw Chloe Caldwell read in Portland a few months ago and have been counting the days until her first book release on Future Tense Books. I finally picked up this book of essays on Friday afternoon and was done with it by Sunday morning.
'Legs Get Led Astray' incited a mixture of feelings from me. I admire the work and I think some of it is bitingly good. However, I found myself looking forward to what this writer may produce with a little more maturity, maybe when her writing will be less abou
Diana Salier
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm only halfway through but I have already earmarked several sections that I love. This book is really sad and really sexy at the same time, kind of like Jordan Catalano. It makes me cry. It makes me wish I had a more rebellious upbringing. It makes me wonder if I missed something in New York, and it makes me want to have sex with Chloe Caldwell.
Jun 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2012
Read a pretty glowing review of this book in The L Magazine and two days later found it on the $1 rack at Book Thug Nation. Also it turns out that Chloe and I have a bunch of friends (not to mention a former employer) in common, so when I get around to reviewing this I will be on my best behavior.


I don't know, I feel weird reviewing this since I know the author will probably read it (hi, Chloe). The fairest thing I can say is that it felt very young to me, which it is. There's something to be
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
flipping through Legs Get Led Astray, reading all the sentences i underlined to enjoy later, i felt so calm & giggly.

i underlined Chloe’s thoughts about masturbating, her relationship with her mother, Melissa Febos, babysitting her nephew, on turning thirty, New York, “The Art Teacher”, her destructive ways, @strandbookstore & thoughts about body image.

Chloe’s books are my favorite to read over & over again. she’s so damn honest & refreshing. if you’re looking to add another LGB
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essaymemoir
Could become for straight girls in Brooklyn what Michelle Tea's "Valencia" was for queer girls in San Francisco.

If you're a person like me, which means if you're a kind of person whose early 20s didn't involve living in crumbling apartment buildings and using six impossible substances before breakfast, you might feel like you're contracting liver cancer and tetanus on every page. If you went vegetarian at 19 for health reasons, spent the first six years of your twenties in a monogamous relation
May 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Let me explain this low rating, especially since I was really looking forward to reading this book. For all the explicitness of the book (say, for instance, the fact that Caldwell enjoys masturbating while wearing knee-high socks and listening to men degrade women), Caldwell comes off less as a person than as a type--the Manic Pixie Sex Girl? She does lots of drugs, lots of men, but without any sense as to why she does these things--there seems to be no motivation for her beyond wanting to do it ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Collection of personal essays that would have been perfect for back in the early 00s. Lots of gimmicky repetition and overlap of subject material. While I found the author's precociousness overbearing at first I came to appreciate the context the fuller picture provides. There was a time when this kind of essay would inspire me to revisit my own period of reckless, feckless sex and drug-taking back when I was in the Navy, but I empathized mostly with the protagonist's mother as I imagi ...more
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature, favorites
Chloe Caldwell's raw, gritty essay collection is one hell of a seething mess, but in a really good way. Really. Bald fear, lust, despair, and addictions run rampant in this particular slice of Caldwell's life, but her love of writing and words somehow trumps the stark ugliness with something like grace. Powerful and touching, Legs Get Led Astray is a tiny bomb that will break you, but make you happy in the process, and leave you awestruck at the end.
Dena Guzman
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Chloe's got it, that undefinable thing everyone wants to define. Also, the essay about the French guy is as good as any of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs. Excited to see what's next.
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow! That's all for now.
I bought this book of essays on impulse, having seen it on my coffee break in the Small Press section at Powells. Being a twenty-something myself, I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to read about another woman’s life and experiences. They were totally different from mine in a literal way, but I could still relate to the sense of wistfulness I found in many of her stories. Like many if not most of us, Caldwell seems to learn the most about herself through her relationships with others, and that is ...more
The short semi-autobrographical essays in Legs Get Led Astray vary from minimalistic to complex, from stories of past relationships to stories of her apartment building collapsing. These essays are at times not for the faint of heart, but the raw emotions portrayed in Caldwell's work are authentic. In other words, this is what Lena Dunham wants to be but what Caldwell manages to pull off without pretension.

(One issue I have with this collection is that the narrator states that these are autobio
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Caldwell certainly has a distinct writing style. These are more prose poems than true prose, and she heavily favors writing these to a person (using a lot of "yous" in her writing).

I discovered Caldwell when Powell's sent me a piece of her writing as part of an Indiespensables package (if you're reading this, chances are you like to read, and I would highly encourage you to look into Indiespensables). I'm glad I bought her book--the style is right up my alley. I did find, though, that because s
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: loud girls, crazy girls, fall-in-love-too-much girls
Recommended to Zoe by: Kevin Sampsell
Maybe it's because I'm an unrepentant narcissist, or maybe it's because we're Future Tense sisters, but I couldn't help but think that Chloe's book reminded me of Please Don't Kill the Freshman. Like, if my life had been sewn with a brown thread instead of black, and if I had been east coast instead of west, and and if my parents had split up when I was in high school and not college, then I also would have moved to Brooklyn and fallen in love with boys at the Strand and lived in a dilapidated o ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
"But my own legs had this idea that getting on airplanes-- that walking down ramp ways with a suitcase on wheels, that running away in a sense, would help me find whatever it was that I was looking for because he made it clear to me he could not give it to me. My legs were steps ahead of me- they were thinking maybe someone I could love lived on the West Coast. What if I was in the wrong place? I had to check. My legs wanted to open widely for someone new and have that person take his place-- ca ...more
Amy Harper
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I could not put it down. The title says it all. We are not always in control of ourselves. "Legs Led Astray" is a poignant, funny, and disturbing look into someone else's proverbial medicine cabinet. The honesty the narrator conveys made me feel voyeuristic. But by the time I reached the end, I felt like a changed person; less like a watcher and more like a participant in these stories. Must read.
Bethany W
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fantastic memoir of that will bring you back to that time in your life where you were in between adolescence and adulthood...esp if that time included ingesting copious amounts of drugs, sex, and...well, writing. Great read and I look forward to more from this author.
Amy Bernhard
Jul 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
people who live in new york are SO INTO new york. it's kind of maddening.

really I liked this though.
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful utterances of the unutterable.
Moira A. Reilly
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a Kate find. Thanks again.

Really awesome and evocative and sexy. This woman has a great voice.
Radha Hamilton
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
So beautiful. Achingly youthful, honest, moving. I picked it up randomly when I was at my favorite bookstore in Portland, Powells books. The title spoke to me, and the book itself spoke volumes as well. I connected with it immediately, lust, love, substances, all of it. I immediately become obsessed with the essay about the time she had an affair with a guy with a girlfriend, and how she used the girl's lotion, yes to carrots, and created a narrative in her mind about the way the relationship wa ...more
Kaycie Hall
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
❤ Chloe Caldwell's writing-- a cross between reading someone's journal and having a 1v1 conversation with a close friend ...more
Melanie Ullrich
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: monique
4.5 stars
Shane Puglisi
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
chloes stories were a voice that told me it was okay to be not okay, during a time i needed to hear it. gonna miss them
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
This one is going to be tough for me to review (and on some level you can disregard the numerical rating as you'll see...). Just bear with me.

Non-fiction is tough for me. I feel like I'm entering an intimate relationship with the author. In the beginning, every new secret is awesome and you're just so filled with love. Later on, you start to hear the same stories and you notice more and more how distant you feel, how so many of the things that initially excited you start to bore you...

I read Cal
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Yokohama Threeway: And Other Small Shames
  • Pity the Animal
  • Excavation: A Memoir
  • Fast Machine
  • The Really Funny Thing About Apathy
  • Once I Was Cool: Personal Essays
  • Stories V!
  • For You, for You I am Trilling These Songs
  • The Word Pretty
  • A Common Pornography
  • This Won't Take But a Minute, Honey
  • This Must Be the Place
  • The Correspondence Artist
  • Spent
  • Divorcer
  • Enlightenment Ain't What It's Cracked Up to Be: A Journey of Discovery, Snow and Jazz in the Soul
  • Sirens
  • Dora: A Headcase
See similar books…
Chloe Caldwell is the author of the critically acclaimed novella, WOMEN (Short Flight/Long Drive, 2014) and the essay collection I'LL TELL YOU IN PERSON (CoffeeHouse/Emily Books).

Chloe's work has been published in Buzzfeed, New York Magazine, Vice, Lenny Letter, Salon, The Rumpus, The Sun, Nylon, Men's Health, and half a dozen anthologies.

Chloe teaches creative nonfiction at Catapult in Manhattan
“I can accept that all I’ve ever wanted is not very special—all I’ve ever wanted, like most people, is proof of love.” 5 likes
“My mother wanted to be Betty Boop. Betty Boop was independent. Betty Boop was sexy. Betty Boop really had her shit together, you know?” 4 likes
More quotes…