Say Goodbye cover

Published by St. Martin's Press October 1999
Reprinted by St. Martin's Griffin, October 2000
Reprinted by Subterranean, May 2011

Say Goodbye

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Here's a preview of the first section.

The complete novel is available as a free PDF download on the Fiction Liberation Front site.

Quotes and Reviews

"This uncanny novel purports to chronicle the rise to almost-stardom of a singer-songwriter named Laurie Moss, who drives from San Antonio to L.A. in her trusty little brown Datsun looking for the big break. The details are note-perfect: the wounded titles of her songs; the ancient musky odor of the garage where her band plays together for the first time; the tender admissions of the narrator, a rock critic who is 'at least two-thirds in love' with his subject. The completeness of the world Shiner creates brings Laurie to life, and lends a sense of fatedness to her panicked walk toward fame."

New Yorker

"Shiner's tale of the fictional Laurie Moss is... [just the] good parts, meaning the minor but telling moments in an aspiring musician's life that mean little as they happen but everything in retrospect...framed by the obsessive journalist's search for answers, Moss becomes a vivid character...Shiner has written a fine novel about rock 'n' roll by believing more in musicians' human nature than in their mythologies."

—Mark Athitakis, New York Times Book Review

"Rock & roll literature? It seems like an oxymoron, but Shiner pulls it off in this artful fictional chronicle of singer-songwriter, Laurie Moss, and her quest for pop stardom."

—Laura Morgan, Entertainment Weekly

"Sappy...This isn't the great rock novel we may never have. But like Tom Perrotta's The Wishbones, Jessica Hagedorn's The Gangster of Love, or Nick Hornby's two novels, it's an emotionally credible account of how rock's grandiosity affects down-to-earth lives."

—Eric Weisbard, Village Voice

"The L.A. music-scene setting of Say Goodbye will likely cause the book's exile to the rock-and-roll-novel ghetto. But that would be a tragedy, because Austin expat Lewis Shiner's tale of almost-star Laurie Moss is a spare and remarkable book resonating with heart and bittersweet reality."

Texas Monthly

"Fresh and original...Shiner sings a song of loss and striving, where hard work and a lucky break guarantee nothing...Shiner's extensive research gives an authentic feel and keeps it from becoming a soap opera or a wearisome cover version of every other rise-and-fall parable. Honest, unpretentious and heartfelt, this novel remains a haunting refrain."

Publishers Weekly

"An engrossing novel about a rock singer...[Shiner] vivifies the uncertainties and boredom of the musician's life, but more impressively, he manages to convey the almost indescribable joy of bringing an audience from a state of apathy to the edge of hysteria. He also avoids most of the cliches of backstage life...a revealing look at today's music business."


"Gritty, funny, cynical, and sentimental; a sharply focused epic that brings welcome revision to the sunny, pop-culture success gospels that have led so many naive talents astray."

Kirkus Reviews

"While everybody knows about the rock stars who succeed, Shiner has finally told the story of the thousands who dream the dream but never make a dime. Say Goodbye is an absorbing, hard-hitting tale that should be read by every rock star wannabe."

—Dan R. Goddard, San Antonio Express-News

"All the virtues of old-fashioned storytelling—a heroine you can love, a world you can live in—told in the key of of urban cool. Say Goodbye is a dream of a book, perfectly imagined, perfectly imparted. Shiner's voice comes through with all his usual passionate authority, and he never hits a false note."

—Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Sweetheart Season

"Every band has an inner momentum like this, its entangles and wreck tangles, moments of bliss mixed with the jarring reality of life in the belly of the music business, and the shared song that makes it all worthwhile. Lewis Shiner sings that tale with harmonic compassion."

—Lenny Kaye

"Say Goodbye resonates like a blue note heard and remembered in a smoky, late-night club. Lewis Shiner has written the Citizen Kane of rock and roll novels, a human and moving piece of work."

—George P. Pelecanos, author of The Sweet Forever

Reviews of the Audio Book (out of print)

"Shiner's tenderhearted story of a young woman rock 'n' roller's rise to fame plays perfectly on audio—thanks to the author's fresh and unobtrusive style, his doggedly realistic portrayal of 1990s-era music industry workings and his gift for fine characterization. A listener can feel genuine sympathy for Texan Laurie Moss as she struggles to write songs and put a group together while working as a waitress in L.A. Her 'band of dreams,' the Mighty Mosstones, includes Laurie's hero, veteran scenester guitarist Skip Shaw, who unfortunately is a drug casualty waiting to happen. When Skip begrudgingly comes on the road for a tour of small club gigs, tensions rise. Laurie's record company shoots a video, but this leads to inevitable diappointment. The story is told from the point-of-view of a smitten rock journalist whose observations render the tale bittersweet throughout. Shiner is an astute reader of his own material; he knows just when to milk it for emotional punch."

Publishers Weekly


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