Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

A Swallow Press Book

Good-bye, Son and Other Stories

By Janet Lewis

“Any consideration of the writing of Janet Lewis becomes inevitably a consideration of style. In Good-bye, Son, she exhibits a classical purity that is rare.”

New York Times

“The collection may remind you of some of the quiet stories of Willa Cather.”

The New Yorker

(Good-bye, Son, and Other Stories) is … an unaccountably neglected book, a collection [that explores] the apprehension and experiencing of death, and the consolatory power inherent in understanding one’s place and part in the natural cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.”

Christian Science Monitor

“(Janet Lewis) is a striking example of a quiet talent working quietly through almost the entirety of a noisy, celebrity-heavy century.”

Larry McMurtry, New York Review of Books

Good-bye, Son and Other Stories, Janet Lewis’s only collection of short fiction, was first published in 1946, but remains as quietly haunting today as it was then. Set in small communities of the upper Midwest and northern California in the ’30s and ’40s, these midcentury gems focus on the quiet cycles connecting youth and age, despair and hope, life and death. A mother’s encounters with her deceased son, an aging woman sitting with the new knowledge of her troubled older sister’s death, and a teenager disillusioned by her own mortality are among the characters, mostly women and girls, whom Lewis delivers. Her understated style and knack for unadorned observation embed us with them as they reckon with the disquieting forces—incomprehensible and destructive to some, enlightening to others—that move us from birth, through life, to death. In the process, Lewis has crafted a paean to the living.

Janet Lewis was a novelist, poet, and short-story writer whose literary career spanned almost the entire twentieth century. The New York Times has praised her novels as “some of the 20th century’s most vividly imagined and finely wrought literature.” Born and educated in Chicago, she lived in California for most of her adult life and taught at both Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. Her works include The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941), The Trial of Sören Qvist (1947), The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron (1959), Good-Bye, Son and Other Stories (1946), and Poems Old and New (1982).   More info →


Table of Contents


Sample Story


Order a print copy

Paperback · $15.16 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $18.95 · Save 20% ($15.16)

Hardcover · $15.96 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $19.95 · Save 20% ($15.96)

Buy from a local bookstore


US and Canada only

Buy an eBook

Amazon Kindle Store Barnes & Noble NOOK Google Play iBooks Store

Availability and price vary according to vendor.

Cover of Good-bye, Son and Other Stories

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center

Related Subjects

Click or tap on a subject heading to sign up to be notified when new related books come out.


Retail price: $18.95, T.
Release date: August 2019
224 pages · 5 × 7 in.
Rights:  World

Retail price: $19.95, S.
Release date: June 1986
224 pages · 5 × 7 in.
Rights:  World

Release date: August 2019
224 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for Good-bye, Son and Other Stories

“[Lewis] thrusts us into the essence of a situation, startling us out of the role of complacent observer and into that of active participant. This steady movement and these brief revelations work together to give the stories a collective meaning.”

Deanna L. Kern Ludwin, Western American Literature

“Janet Lewis…has now written some very fine short stories, of which at least one (‘Good-bye, Son,’ the title story or novelette), I predict will live a long time, not only in memories, but in the anthologies of outstanding short prose in which it is bound to turn up. It is a story not easily classifiable among the different kinds of supernatural tales; it is, in essence, a story of divine guidance, and as such has nothing but the appearing of the dead in common with the usual ‘ghost story.’”

L. T. Nicholl, Weekly Book Review

Related Titles

Cover of 'The Wife of Martin Guerre'

The Wife of Martin Guerre
By Janet Lewis
· Introduction by Kevin Haworth
· Afterword by Larry McMurtry

The Wife of Martin Guerre—based on a notorious trial in sixteenth-century France—is “one of the most significant short novels in English” (Atlantic Monthly). Originally published in 1941, it still raises questions about identity, belonging, and about an individual’s capacity to act within an inflexible system.

Literary Fiction · Historical Fiction · Women Authors · American Literature · France · Literature

Cover of 'The Trial of Sören Qvist'

The Trial of Sören Qvist
By Janet Lewis
· Introduction by Kevin Haworth

Originally published in 1947, The Trial of Sören Qvist has been praised by a number of critics for its intriguing plot and Janet Lewis’s powerful writing. And in the introduction to this new edition, Swallow Press executive editor and author Kevin Haworth calls attention to the contemporary feeling of the story—despite its having been written more than fifty years ago and set several hundred years in the past.

Literary Fiction · Historical Fiction · Women Authors · American Literature · Literature

Cover of 'The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron'

The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron
By Janet Lewis
· Introduction by Kevin Haworth

This historical novel is the third and final book in American poet and fiction writer Janet Lewis’s Cases of Circumstantial Evidence series, based on legal case studies compiled in the nineteenth century. In The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron, Lewis returns to her beloved France, the setting of The Wife of Martin Guerre, her best-known novel and the first in the series.

Literary Fiction · Historical Fiction · Women Authors · American Literature · France

Cover of 'Brides in the Sky'

Brides in the Sky
Stories and a Novella
By Cary Holladay

Each of the crystalline worlds Cary Holladay brings us in the short stories and novella that make up Brides in the Sky has sisterhood, in all its urgency and peril, at its heart. She crafts these stories with subtle humor, a stunning sense of place, and an unerring eye for character.

Short Stories (single author) · Women Authors · Fiction

Sign up to be notified when new Literature titles come out.

We will only use your email address to notify you of new titles in the subject area(s) you follow. We will never share your information with third parties.