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Looking for Mr. Goodbar

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  5,510 ratings  ·  256 reviews
Based on a harrowing true story, the groundbreaking #1 New York Times bestseller, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, is a story of love, power, sex, and death during the sexual revolution of the 1970s.

Theresa Dunn spends her days as a schoolteacher whose rigid Catholic upbringing has taught her to find happiness by finding the right man. But at night, her resentment of those social
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1975)
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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,510 ratings  ·  256 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Gary Wyatt
”To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 photo Seasons_zpsfae2e484.jpg

Professor Martin Engle broke off his four year affair with his student Theresa Dunn by quoting Ecclesiastes to her. Like a lion circling a herd of gazelles probing for the weakest member he had decided she was the right one to sustain his ego. She was just coming out of her ugly duckling stage and emerging from the shadows cast by the wings of her swan like sister. She is self conscious of her bod
Julie Ehlers
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction


I'm a little conflicted. I'll be back.


Okay, I’m back.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a tough book to review. It gives away nothing to say it’s based on the real-life murder of Roseann Quinn, and this element makes it difficult to view the novel purely as a novel.

That’s unfortunate, because as a novel this book really, really works. It’s a bit dated, of course—that’s inevitable. But the language is simple and compelling, the characters are
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written in 1975 so it's a bit dated but it holds up really well. It's based on a true story and I believe at one time there was a movie or a made for tv series about it so I knew the gist of the story but had never read the book.

Theresa Dunn is a beloved school teacher who loves her job but want no children of her own. She is very anti-marriage and not really capable of having relationships. She has a TON of personal baggage. To blow off steam she goes to bars and picks up men. Us
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
What I remember most about this book is how much it made me blush, and made my ears turn beet red. This would have been no issue, except for the fact that I spent the week reading it on my commute to work on a busy train. Each day that week I took for granted that my fellow commuters hadn't either (a)read the book or (b) watched the 70s film starring Diane Keaton. Ugh! Boy was I wrong. On one of the last days that week, after I'd nearly missed my stop with the last 23 pages hanging in the balanc ...more
Apr 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana

This isn't a review. It's personal history, and a reflection on memory

A couple days ago I finished reading Jean Rhys' Good Morning Midnight. As I read the last few pages I had vague flashbacks to this book.

Luckily those flashbacks did not dovetail with Rhys' ending.

But I couldn't think of the name of this novel. Nor could I remember when exactly the flashbacks dated to. There was a visual among them, I was standing in our basement (where all our books were for several years). I was holding a boo
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The true story this novel is based upon is a sad tale and details can easily be found on the internet.

The story details the awakening of a young woman raised in a repressed home. As a child, Terry, the main character, was ill as a child and the illness, prolonged with a missed health diagnosis, heavily impacts her later life. As an adult, Terry flees to the city and soon follows a journey of city life exploration and her own sexual awakening. At first, she leads a more innocent lifestyle, which
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reread in 2019, almost one year later: This book hasn't lost its grip on me, the writing style is magnificent in that it actually makes you slip into Theresa's shoes and understanding her so well despite her quite...obscure ways of living. Whoring around in bars is not exactly one of my favourite past-time activities, and yet I felt I could connect with Theresa so much. After all, self-sabotaging is something probably many of us are prone to, and often unwilling to admit even to ourselves. There ...more
"Talking was so much more complicated than making love...fucking, she should call it, since it was hard to see how anything she did with him could be about love. To talk with people you had to ignore the way you felt and speak from the front of your face...or else go through the effort of distilling those feelings into something that made some kind of sense, was acceptable in some way. That was what words did, really, make some kind of order out of the dark jumble of feelings and perceptions and ...more
Jan 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could find a few reviews of this book from when it was originally published. I am sure that by not living through the women's lib movement & the sexual revolution, I am missing something from this book.

However, as a person who grew up in the 80's, this book dooesn't strike me as a "precautionary tale." Rather, I really, really dislike Theresa Dunn. This is a woman who rarely speaks up for herself & always lets others make her decisions for her. Then, she becomes upset when her
“Sexually he was like a dose of anesthetic, he made her go dead all over, but he was so nice!”
― Judith Rossner, Looking for Mr. Goodbar

I reread this every so often. I have seen other reviews that say this book never really got the credit it deserved and I agree.


You know from the beginning that Theresa is not long for this world. It is in the opening scene. So it is difficult at least for me it was as I got attached to her character.

It is funny that this book was so controversial back t
Heather *Awkward Queen and Unicorn Twin*
For a while I had a hard time picking up this book. The beginning was difficult for me to get through, but once the story got rolling it was pretty interesting. There was even some surprisingly lovely writing. Although the ending was quite abrupt, I suppose that's understandable given what happens.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not
I learned that even really badly written books on nasty subjects can make the best seller lists and stay there a long time. Many people have the judgment of turnips.
Ronald Wise
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book when it was a paperback best-seller in 1976 and I was 21. It packed a real punch then, but this time it whacked me in an entirely different way. In a cultural and technological sense this book has become somewhat dated, but the big difference in my reaction has more to do with the water that has passed under my bridge in the meantime.

For readers who have not experienced the hopes and frustrations of the nightlife pick-up scene, it might seem that this is the story of an un
This is one of those books, like Valley of the Dolls or Peyton Place, that you know better but you just can not stop reading it. You can feel your brain softening and your eyes and personality growing dull and you feel like you're being naughty because most of the story is really quite simply just about sex.

Written in 1975, just a few years after the beginning of the sexual revolution, and chock full of women's lib ideology, schoolteacher Theresa Dunn is the woman out searching not for love but
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
One Stranger Too Many

Looking For Mr. Goodbar was a huge hit as both a novel and a movie, becoming part of the cultural signposts of the Seventies. The novel, which came first, was based loosely on a true story of a young woman in swinging Seventies Manhattan who took home one stranger too many from a pick- up bar and didn’t survive the night to tell about. It was a shocking story for mainstream literature, particularly the lurid sexual details. But it was more than just a shock value tale. It is
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I saw the movie, starring Diane Keaton long ago and it stuck with me. The book was just as dark and dreary. Is it a 1970's statement about what happens to a reluctant feminist? Or is it simply the story of one confused woman. I think it can be read either way.
Kate Feinauer
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m haunted by this book. Good Lord! Jesus.
Virgilio Machado
Judith Rossner has impeccable literary credentials. [...] Looking for Mr. Goodbar is so good a read, so stunningly commercial as a novel, that it runs the risk of being consigned to artistic oblivion. That would be a mistake. The sureness of Judith Rossner's writing and her almost flawless sense of timing create a complex and chilling portrait of a woman's descent into hell that gives this book considerable literary merit.

This dismal tale is told in the co
Erin Biegel
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While "like" or "love" may not be the correct verbs to describe my feelings about this book, I will say that it was so powerful that it left me in kind of a stupor for almost a week after I finished it. I then passed it on to my boyfriend, who had the same reaction. It's so deeply psychological, it manages to bore into your unsuspecting mind and emotions, and once it's there, it's hard to shake.
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so shocking when I read it long ago. But, it was so compelling that everyone I knew was talking about it for months and months. And, even now, it's still part of our lexicon. In one way or the other, it changed most readers views.
♥ Marlene♥
One of my favourite books and I want to read again. Going to see if I can find it on my shelves.
Christian Engler
Sex is supposed to be the culmination to human love. But in Judith’s Rossner’s clear-cut and unsettling novel, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, sex-for its characters (especially Theresa Dunn and those whom she picks up)-is the trophy/reward par excellance. And if love happens to fall into place after the fact, all the better. But, if not, it’s no big deal. After all, sex is sex. It’s no biggie. It feels good, and to hell with the possible ramifications in hunting for it. It’s all backwards, a byproduct ...more
Lisa Greer
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am speeding through this one, and 2/3s in, it is getting 5 stars. Yes, I'd seen the movie and it was harrowing. I will never forget it. But, wow, what riveting, compelling writing. I like the close character study and psychological character insights in this novel. I think Rossner does a nice job of showing the emptiness of modern life for so many women... and that was in 1975... at least the paperback I am reading. It is utterly chilling in so many ways, and it is even more painful reading it ...more
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Are things really as simple as all that?”

I read this in my early 20s and saw the movie. Both left a huge impression on me at the time.

This story is an adaptation of the murder of Roseann Quinn. And, at the beginning of the book, there is the confession by Gary Cooper White, the murderer. This sets the stage of the book. Judith Rossner does an excellent job with this story.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is for mature audiences, definitely. I forgot about all the explicit sexual encounters. However, t
Zoe Crosher
Beginning section describing the murder from the cowboy's POV is totally unnecessary and seems like a cinematic embellishment. I almost stopped reading. But as the story progresses, I realize it is part of this 70s/80s genre of attempting-to-be-liberated women that in the end gets punished for this new found sexual freedom (the worst in this case = death.) Think Erica Jong, Judy Bloom's Women, etc.
This is yet another book I read in the 70s when I was a teenager and it blew me away then. No idea of what I would think of it now, as there is a huge difference between being 17 and 55. I have however, for sentimental reasons, if for nothing else, obtained an old second hand copy of it, and am anxious to re-visit something I enjoyed more than 35 years ago.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, usa, crime, infidelity
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
okay, saying i ''loved'' this book is not quite right--but i have to say it's brilliantly written. it's a perfect representation of the dark side of the sexual revolution of the '60's and '70's yet still rings true as a representation of the insecurities that still haunt women.
Nov 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One I had always meant to read but never got around to. Holds up well taken out of its time.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is well written. I can barely recall the film, I saw it on TV when I was in my late teens.
What sort of numbs me and makes me sad about this story is the shock that anyone feels that this is a safe thing to do, then or now, and I know people who have done this, pick up strangers in bars and bring them to their home, and recently. To make it even more confusing is the main character's admittance in a couple spots of the book of having an unexplained fear of certain nationalities or peopl
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Judith Perelman Rossner was an American novelist, best known for her 1975 novel Looking for Mr. Goodbar, which was inspired by the murder of Roseann Quinn and examined the underside of the seventies sexual liberation movement. Though Looking for Mr. Goodbar remained Rossner's best known and best selling work, she continued to write. Her most successful post-Goodbar novel was 1983's August, about t ...more
“When she was naked she generally found her body rather beautiful, although she could never in a million years have admitted this to anyone. In clothes, in front of other people, she felt ashamed of her weight, her sloppiness, always something, but it was more because of what she felt they saw when they looked at her. Now” 1 likes
“Sexually he was like a dose of anesthetic, he made her go dead all over, but he was so nice!” 1 likes
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