The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

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"Complex and challenging... push[es] the boundaries of writing about trauma." —The New York Times
“A True Crime Masterpiece” – Vogue
Entertainment Weekly "Must" List and Best Books of the Year So Far
Real Simple's Best New Books
Guardian Best Book of the Year
Lambda Literary Award Winner
Chautauqua Prize Winner

"The Fact of a Body is one of the best books I've read this year. It's just astounding."
— Paula Hawkins, author of Into the Water and The Girl on the Train

"This book is a marvel. The Fact of a Body is equal parts gripping and haunting and will leave you questioning whether any one story can hold the full truth." — Celeste Ng, author of the New York Times bestselling Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere


Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes—the moment she hears him speak of his crimes -- she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky's crime.

But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s.

An intellectual and emotional thriller that is also a different kind of murder mystery, THE FACT OF A BODY is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed -- but about how we grapple with our own personal histories. Along the way it tackles questions about the nature of forgiveness, and if a single narrative can ever really contain something as definitive as the truth. This groundbreaking, heart-stopping work, ten years in the making, shows how the law is more personal than we would like to believe -- and the truth more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.

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About the author

A 2014 National Endowment for the Arts fellow, she has received a Rona Jaffe Award and has twice been a fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo. Her essays appear in the New York Times, Oxford American, and the anthologies TRUE CRIME and WAVEFORM: Twenty-first Century Essays by Women, as well as many other publications. She received her JD from Harvard, her MFA at Emerson College, and her BA from Columbia University. She now lives in Boston, where she teaches at Grub Street and in the graduate public policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
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4.2
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Additional Information

Publisher
Flatiron Books
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Published on
May 16, 2017
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781250080561
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / LGBT
Family & Relationships / Abuse / Child Abuse
Family & Relationships / Dysfunctional Families
True Crime / Murder / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Named One of the Best Books of the year by:
Esquire, Refinery29, LitHub, BookRiot, Medium, Electric Literature, The Brooklyn Rail, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Largehearted Boy, The Coil and The Cut.

Winner of the Lambda Literary Jeanne Cordova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction
Finalist, Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir/Biography
Finalist, Publishing Triangle's Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction
An Indie Next Pick

For readers of Maggie Nelson and Leslie Jamison, a fierce and dazzling personal narrative that explores the many ways identity and art are shaped by love and loss.

In her critically acclaimed memoir, Whip Smart, Melissa Febos laid bare the intimate world of the professional dominatrix, turning an honest examination of her life into a lyrical study of power, desire, and fulfillment.

In her dazzling Abandon Me, Febos captures the intense bonds of love and the need for connection -- with family, lovers, and oneself. First, her birth father, who left her with only an inheritance of addiction and Native American blood, its meaning a mystery. As Febos tentatively reconnects, she sees how both these lineages manifest in her own life, marked by compulsion and an instinct for self-erasure. Meanwhile, she remains closely tied to the sea captain who raised her, his parenting ardent but intermittent as his work took him away for months at a time. Woven throughout is the hypnotic story of an all-consuming, long-distance love affair with a woman, marked equally by worship and withdrawal. In visceral, erotic prose, Febos captures their mutual abandonment to passion and obsession -- and the terror and exhilaration of losing herself in another.

At once a fearlessly vulnerable memoir and an incisive investigation of art, love, and identity, Abandon Me draws on childhood stories, religion, psychology, mythology, popular culture, and the intimacies of one writer's life to reveal intellectual and emotional truths that feel startlingly universal.
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