The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
A Murder and a Memoir

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The author admits that she has “layered my imagination” onto her sources to make her characters vivid, inevitably raising questions about the line between nonfiction and fiction and about how such embellishment can manipulate the reader’s perceptions and sympathies. A powerful evocation of the raw pain of emotional scars.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

Bustle's 20 Best Non-Fiction Books for May
Entertainment Weekly Books You Have to Read in May
Real Simple's Best New Books to Read in May

“A True Crime Masterpiece” – Vogue

"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


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.

 

About Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

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Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts fellow in creative writing, an award given for her work on The Fact of A Body. Other honors in support of this book include a Rona Jaffe Award, a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, as well as fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, Millay Colony for the Arts, Blue Mountain Center and Yaddo. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The New York Times, Oxford American, Salon, and the anthology TRUE CRIME. She has a JD from Harvard, an MFA from Emerson and a BA from Columbia University. Alexandria currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she teaches memoir writing at Grub Street and teaches graduate public policy students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
 
Published May 16, 2017 by Flatiron Books. 337 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Fact of a Body
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Kirkus

Above average
on Mar 07 2017

The author admits that she has “layered my imagination” onto her sources to make her characters vivid, inevitably raising questions about the line between nonfiction and fiction and about how such embellishment can manipulate the reader’s perceptions and sympathies. A powerful evocation of the raw pain of emotional scars.

Read Full Review of The Fact of a Body: A Murder ... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by William Skidelsky on May 20 2017

The publisher describes The Fact of the Body as being “as enthralling as true-crime classics such as In Cold Blood and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. Not only is this an overstatement, it inadvertently points to the book’s central failing, which is precisely its “true-crime” ambitions.

Read Full Review of The Fact of a Body: A Murder ... | See more reviews from Guardian

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