The Goodbye House
In the aftermath of the early 2000s dot-com bust, the people of San José, 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.
Katherine, Carter, and Scott all try to navigate an evolving world in a Golden State that doesn’t seem quite so golden anymore. 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, to 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.
“The Goodbye House is a novel that strips away the gloss of the American Dream and reveals the everyday people struggling underneath.”
“A poignant interplay with complex, three-dimensional characters, The Goodbye House is highly recommended.”
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
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
Lawrence Coates’s wonderful new novel is a deft family drama set against the ever-mutable backdrop of Santa Clara Valley. Told with compassion, stunning human insight, and brilliant flashes of humor, The Goodbye House follows a struggling family whose once golden dreams have faded amid the surrounding jackpot culture of start-ups and dot-coms.
This is a wise, smart, and poignant novel.—Don Waters