Godspeed: A Memoir

Godspeed: A Memoir

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 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.

Title:Godspeed: A Memoir
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About Casey Legler

    Godspeed: A Memoir Reviews

  • 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. Close...

  • 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 d...

  • 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. ...

  • TiSh

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

  • 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 Case...

  • 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 ...

  • Marykay Pogar

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

  • 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 ...

  • Kelly

    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 addi...

  • Jackie Mcmillan

    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 promis...