Synopses & Reviews
A dark, wild, powerful memoir about a young woman's transformation from college student to professional dominatrix.
While a college student at The New School, Melissa Febos spent four years working as a dominatrix in a midtown dungeon. In poetic, nuanced prose she charts how unchecked risk-taking eventually gave way to a course of self-destruction. But as she recounts crossing over the very boundaries that she set for her own safety, she never plays the victim. In fact, the glory of this memoir is Melissa's ability to illuminate the strange and powerful truths that she learned as she found her way out of a hell of her own making. Rest assured; the reader will emerge from the journey more or less unscathed.
"Febos' journeying into the darkest corners of both her and others' minds is entertaining and enlightening; there are weird, eye-popping, sad, hilarious, and all-too-human episodes and encounters on almost every page. Febos writes of her own walk on the wild side like a seasoned, and chastened, pro." Elle Magazine
"Melissa Febos examines, with frankness, generosity, and unexpected grace, the four years she spent working as a dominatrix in a midtown Manhattan dungeon…her revelations are often funny, occasionally sad, and fearlessly candid." San Francisco Bay Guardian
"Febos's debut about her four years working as a dominatrix at a midtown Manhattan "dungeon" cuts a sharp line between prurience and feminist manifesto…In this emotionally stark, excoriating work, Febos mines the darkest, most troubling aspects of human interaction." Publisher's Weekly
"Febos can really write, and it is the narrative voice she inhabits, at once honest and dispassionate, curious and even idealistic, that turns a timeworn story into a smart, provocative thrill-ride of a book…For all its jaw-dropping shock value...Whip Smart is, in the end, a treatise on the psychology of sex and power, subversion and submission—humanity." David Goodwillie for The Daily Beast
"In her provocative debut…Febos pulls no punches as she describes in minute, and at times horrific, detail her working life…In lesser hands this could be a maudlin, salacious tale, but Febos's electrifying prose and unremitting honesty continually challenge the reader. Expertly captures grace within depravity." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Melissa Febos is co-curator and host of the Mixer Reading and Music Series, she holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, and teaches at SUNY Purchase College and The Gotham Writers' Workshop.