Queer writer, model and Olympian, Casey Legler, has caught the world’s attention on multiple occasions; First as a 19 year old Olympic swimmer representing France at the 1996 Summer Olympics, where she broke the world record the day before the race, and then again when she became the first ever woman to be signed to model exclusively as a male model, making her an instant gender fluid icon in the LGBTQ community.
The French-American creative has stepped once again into the limelight, announcing the imminent release of her memoir and first book, Godspeed. When speaking at the New York Live Arts center, Legler described Godspeed’s first draft as “a 3D manifestation in book form of my brain. It had poems and photos and handwritten stuff and typed shit. (…) It made total sense to me.” With the help of her agent, Bill Clegg, she polished the wild first draft into what is now the final book.
What is it about?
This haunting and electric coming of age memoir charts Casey Legler’s broken childhood—from swimming in the Olympics at eighteen while facing crippling loneliness, to her descent into drug addiction, and a desperate penchant for self-destruction that almost took her life—all while grappling with undiagnosed Autism.
As a little girl, Casey Legler scrawls on a piece of paper two phrases that she folds and keeps with her: Never let people know what you are thinking and Loving is not allowed. Desperate for connection, even as a child, she follows her older sister to swim team practice where, upon her first dive into the water, she discovers a powerful, innate athleticism.
Her raw talent plunges her into a life of further isolation—a life of cheap hotels and chlorine-stung skin, anonymous sexual encounters and escalating drug use. Even at what should have been a moment of triumph—competing in the 1996 Olympics—she is an outsider looking in, tasked with buying drugs for her fellow Olympians, and losing her race after setting a new world record in practice.
After submitting to years of numbing training, Casey recognizes the debilitating sense of apartness that has swelled and festered inside her, and just how deep her darkness has become. Yet, wondrously, she sees a small light within herself, and senses a point of calm within the whirlwind of her life.
This memoir, completed prior to Casey’s diagnosis, provides an unforgettable window into the mind of a young person on the Autism spectrum. Written in searing, evocative, and astonishing prose, Casey Legler 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.
What have people said about it?
“Godspeed is a memoir for our times – an urgent, hypnotizing account of growing up and growing into one’s skin under extreme circumstances. As brutal and original a telling as I can remember – of loneliness, of coping until the center cannot hold. There is darkness here but in Casey Legler’s deft hands it serves the light. A cut-to-the-bone blues song in chapter form, these pages are touched, as she is, with lightening.” – Michael Stipe
“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 deep enchantments of sensation.” – Helen Macdonald
When will it be released?
Godspeed is set to launch on the 10th July 2018, but the book is already available on pre-order.