I felt like I had grabbed a live electrical wire shortly after starting this book. I knew she would say what she needed to say and would not hesitate to go down into the deepest and darkest places and take us with her — and in so doing demonstrate that such release is available to all of us if we're willing to take the risk and do the work. Recommended By Warren B., Powells.com
This book makes a deeply affirming argument in favor of "navel gazing." It gives us permission to tell our most personal stories, and argues that this telling, especially when done by women (or other members of groups whose stories have been historically suppressed or trivialized), is radical, healing, and transformative. I needed this book so badly, and I hope it helps others to take control of the narratives of their own lives. Recommended By Ariel K., Powells.com
Melissa Febos makes a compelling case that the work of crafting memoir — of recking with your own story enough to tell it fully and truly — will make you a better writer and a healthier person. Body Work is an engaging book about the intersection of art and personal development. Recommended By Keith M., Powells.com
Each time I read a book by Melissa Febos, I learn a bit more about myself and what motivates me. Body Work is more than just an instruction manual on how to create art that is truthful, it's a guide for all aspects of our relationships with others. I don't think I will ever read any memoir again without thinking about what Febos writes here about fear, memory, and shame, but also the pleasure of telling our own story exactly the way we want it to be told. Recommended By Bry H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Memoir meets craft masterclass in this "daring, honest, psychologically insightful" exploration of how we think and write about intimate experiences — "a must read for anybody shoving a pen across paper or staring into a screen or a past" (Mary Karr)
In this bold and exhilarating mix of memoir and master class, Melissa Febos tackles the emotional, psychological, and physical work of writing intimately while offering an utterly fresh examination of the storyteller's life and the questions which run through it.
How might we go about capturing on the page the relationships that have formed us? How do we write about our bodies, their desires and traumas? What does it mean for an author's way of writing, or living, to be dismissed as "navel-gazing" — or else hailed as "so brave, so raw"? And to whom, in the end, do our most intimate stories belong?
Drawing on her own path from aspiring writer to acclaimed author and writing professor — via addiction and recovery, sex work and academia — Melissa Febos has created a captivating guide to the writing life, and a brilliantly unusual exploration of subjectivity, privacy, and the power of divulgence. Candid and inspiring, Body Work will empower readers and writers alike, offering ideas — and occasional notes of caution — to anyone who has ever hoped to see themselves in a story.
"Whip-smart...Shrewd takes on the intersection of craft and life...This is a wonder." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Ferociously smart and piercingly insightful, Body Work is an instant classic of the how-and-why-do-we-write form. With candor and clarity, Melissa Febos explores the complexities of writing courageously and honestly about our lives. It's a book I'll return to again and again." Cheryl Strayed, author of Brave Enough and Wild
"Melissa Febos has written one of the most liberating books on the subject of writing that I can think of. A tender, urgent intelligence, a wisdom that is hard-won, and a rigor born from a love for the craft preside...I learned so much reading Body Work that I can't wait to teach and use on the page." Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
About the Author
Melissa Febos is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Whip Smart, and the essay collections, Abandon Me, which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, and Girlhood. The inaugural winner of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary, her work has appeared in publications including The Paris Review, The Sun, The Kenyon Review, Tin House, Granta, The Believer, The New York Times, McSweeney's, The New York Times Book Review, Lenny Letter, Elle, and Vogue. She curated the Mixer Reading and Music Series in Manhattan for ten years and served on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts for five. The recipient of an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she is an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program.
Kelsey Ford on PowellsBooks.Blog
Short stories are enticing and prickly — so satisfying when done well, but so difficult to get right. In honor of May being Short Story Month, I thought I'd pull together a selection of craft books that speak to writing short stories...