In the aftermath of the early 2000s dot-com bust, the people of San Jose, California face a changing landscape of lost dreams and careers gone awry. It’s in this setting that Katherine Watson, a forty-seven-year-old event planner and mother of two, moves back into her childhood home with her teenage son, Carter. They live with her aging father, who is undergoing palliative care for prostate cancer. Katherine’s husband, Scott, has gone missing after his risky investments failed and they were forced to sell their dream home.
In this multigenerational family story, Katherine, Carter, and Scott all try to navigate an evolving world in the Golden State that doesn’t seem quite so golden any longer. Scott returns and hopes to restore and recreate their past happiness, Katherine contemplates divorce and explores new love along the way, and Carter works to find a place for himself in a new school among classmates who are hostile to him.
The characters fervently chase their dreams across Silicon Valley and beyond, from the gleaming office parks of Cupertino to a self-help seminar on the Las Vegas Strip and an underfunded high school theater production of The Tempest. The one element tying them all together is the house of the title, a 1950s tract home that once represented happiness and now holds the family close in its protective embrace, until, in the end, even this constant changes.
About the Author
Lawrence Coates is professor of creative writing at Bowling Green State University. He has published three previous novels, all set in Northern California: The Blossom Festival, The Master of Monterey, and The Garden of the World. Coates has received the Miami University Press Novella Prize, the Western States Book Award for Fiction, the Nancy Dasher Award, the Barthelme Prize for Short Prose, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
“In The Goodbye House, the landscape is so keenly observed, and the emotions so deeply felt, one cannot help but be drawn into this complex family drama. Coates writes with clarity and grace, solidifying his place in the canon of great California literature.” —Michelle Richmond, author of The Golden State: A Novel
“Coates delivers a broad piece of American life—no mere slice here—in a book so warm, funny, and readable that you won’t realize the construction is so complex. Funny, smart, and beautifully fluid—a story you won’t forget.” —Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine
“The strength of The Goodbye House lies in its evocation of place. Anyone who has spent any time in the Bay Area will instantly recognize the titular house on Catesby Street . . . even the ubiquitous California strip malls are captured by Coates’s clever blend of history and detail.” – American Book Review, January – Februrary 2016 — D. Star Costello