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Godspeed: A Memoir

3.12  ·  Rating details ·  289 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Longlisted for the 2019 PEN/ESPN Literary Sports Writing Award

“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 s
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by Atria Books
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Kaya There are several copies on AbeBooks- its also on amazon!

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Jennifer Doyle
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Not at all what I was expecting. Tireless and heartbreaking. Style and tone are vastly different from how Casey comes across in interviews.
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wanted to read this memoir after reading an article about the author in The Guardian. A teen swimming prodigy (who never seems to have liked swimming), she immersed herself in drugs and alcohol, and flamed out at the Olympics in 1996 before hitting bottom. I respect how little she tries to make herself appear likeable in this sad, nihilistic account of her younger years. The writing is choppy, the word choices eccentric (sometimes they really work, as when she described herself walking on the ...more
Sep 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
I always have a hard time giving a negative review to a memoir - I know how incredibly brave it is to share one's story. I greatly appreciated Legler's honesty and willingness to share painful memories that don't always present her in the best light. However, this book was extremely difficult to get through (despite it being short in length). Legler's writing is hard to follow and doesn't always have appropriate punctuation to help guide the reader. I felt like I was stumbling over sentences and ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-english
I wanted 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 st ...more
Jackie McMillan
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I found it hard to find anything to latch onto in this book, which reads like a series of breathless vignettes. The swimmer who doesn’t want to swim. The drug dealer. The rebellious teen. The promiscuous woman. Rape. Depression. Suicide attempts. Rehab. It’s all there but it washes over you like the endless laps the author swims in the pool, in long trailing sentences that hint at meaning that’s never quite uncovered. Novel as metaphor for the swirling waters of addiction, trauma and depression, ...more
Marykay Pogar
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I tried to like it, but I had no idea what she was trying to say for half the book.
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Raw, visceral, disturbing. Not an easy read, but a powerful one.
Aug 01, 2020 marked it as to-read
I distinctly remember waking up in the middle of the night, as I often do, and turning on the television to find Casey Legler discussing her life on BBC Hard Talk. I don't usually watch anything provided by the BBC, but I am pleased to have come across this discussion and feel her story must have made an impression on me as I remember it very well. I look forward to reading this for more depth. ...more
Jessie (thatchickwithabook)
I have conflicting feelings about this memoir. A lot of the times depicted in this book, the author was either drunk, high, or both. And seems to have perfect recollection of everything, including really tiny details. It’s set in her mid/late teens going into her very early twenties, and now in her forties, had written this almost like it was her glory years. Obviously this is only my personal opinion. But it struck me wrong.

Also, it came across as very much like that outcast who just thinks the
Scribe Publications
Reading Godspeed is an experience as invigorating, beautiful and punishing as standing under a waterfall. Legler is an unflinching chronicler of light and darkness, loneliness and embodiment, and the deep enchantments of sensation.
Helen MacDonald, author of H is for Hawk

Godspeed is a memoir for our times — an urgent, hypnotizing account of growing up and growing into ones skin under extreme circumstances. As brutal and original a telling as I can remember — of loneliness, of coping until the cen
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 30, 2018 added it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
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.
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting book written in an unique pacing and style. I enjoyed it, but I feel like it was kind of a slap-dash effort that covered a lot of ground but still seemed to only scratch the surface. I was also hoping for a bit more on competitive swimming and the Olympics - esp since that is likely a key reason many people picked this book up.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a slim book, but it took me a bit to complete. This one wasn't quite my style, but I stuck with it and it paid off. In her fragmented style, Legler conveys her experience as a lonely teen addict (and world class swimmer - talk about juxtaposition) in a way that feels honest to the experience itself. Ultimately, I am glad I stayed with this book.

Legler learned after she wrote the book that she is on the autism spectrum and, in retrospect, this book also serves a peep into how some people
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting read. It's hard to imagine one person doing so much in 9 years. This spans the time from when Casey was 12 until she's 21. She practices and swims internationally and finally in the Atlanta Olympics all while abusing drugs and alcolho. How she made it to where she is now is anyone's guess. ...more
Avery (AveryApproved)
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.
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If there’s one word to summarise this book, it’s ‘unflinching’; unflinching in its portrayal of addiction, unflinching in the reality of being a child athlete, a tool for other people achieving their dreams, and unflinching in its portrayal of how abuse manifests and multiplies.

The whole way through, I oscillated between sympathy and disgust, both towards Casey Legler and towards the people in her life who let this situation continue. She does not shy away from her own cruelty towards others at
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was disappointing for me.
I enjoyed its poetic nature, very visual, with an emphasis on noticing supremely fine details within a moment. Those moments were vulnerable, quiet, intimate and relatable.
To me though, the book lacked sequence or structure or much of a story line, and the writing could have had more impact with more utilization of grammar - too many sentences which just went on and on with no commas, and short sentences which didn’t make sense. Characters came and went, it w
This was just a brutal autobiography. Godspeed tracks Legler's youth from a swimming prodigy to Olympian to addict, and the prose style follows her mental status: as an awkward teenager with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome who begins to make questionable choices in order to feel "normal," the prose is also awkward and confusing; as she begins to spiral into depression and nihilism where even her Olympic experience feels meaningless, the writing nonchalant; as a college student who descends into ...more
Apr 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Here's a sentence: "They don't know that I'm deaf to everything but to the tinsel that bangs skies into my eyes, and my Olympic parka is warm and heavy like a duvet over my placenta …" While this kind of fragmented and impressionistic prose fits the subject and the writer (she had undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder), it's a lot for a reader to take in. It's like all of the connective tissue has been removed, and what's left with is a kind of book-length prose poem that's all muscle and bone. U ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was a hard book to read based on the fact that the period of time the author wrote about she was mainly drunk, high, or suffering from Aspberger's. The book was often written with paragraph after paragraph of run on sentences that were "stream of consciousness" (or near unconsciousness) that I simply could not grasp. Sad story, which will probably make me look at all Olympics swimmers & other Olympic athletes in a different light. ...more
Mar 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-personal
This book was incredibly interesting. As a swimmer I was able to relate a lot to this book. I enjoyed learning about Kasey's perspective especially learning about how mental illness could have impacted her throughout her life. What I really enjoyed was how different this book read than most. I would recommend if you were ever a competitive swimmer. ...more
Ashley Littrell
Jan 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019
Optimistic because this one came to my TBR stack via Belletrist. A jumbled, whingeing mess that couldn’t end fast enough. I wanted to abandon it but pushed through to get it over with. I want my money and time back.
Adriana Kincaid
Sep 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book because Casey’s story seems so interesting. Unfortunately, the writing is terrible. Couldn’t even finish it
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I was interested in her story. Sadly, I was way out of her target audience.
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
Competently written memoir heavy on the drugs and sex, light on swimming in comparison.
Nov 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018
I’m officially over the drug narratives.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting writing and story but couldn't connect. ...more
Les Reynolds
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Haunting, searing art. So raw, and painful, and poetic. Affected me strongly while reading, but not sure I'd read it again. Not like anything I've ever read. ...more
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